‘Derogation farmers must start planning immediately’ – ACA

The vice president of the Agricultural Consultants’ Association (ACA), Tom Canning, has commented on last month’s publication of the nitrates review from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Canning has welcomed the 170kg of organic nitrogen(N)/ha and the 85kg/dairy cow figures remaining in place following the review.

He noted that there had been a fear that both limits were in line for a change but said: “This – and all the other recommendation from the review report – now gives clarity to our derogation farmer clients in planning for the future.”

The department’s nitrate derogations review sought views from all stakeholders earlier this year and a number of changes will come into effect from 2020.

Canning outlined: “The ACA received many contributions from our members during the consultative process and we are pleased to note the department has included a number of these in the review recommendations.”

The ACA welcomed measures in the report which are designed to improve fertiliser use efficiencies on intensive farms and provide additional protection of the environment.

Canning noted: “Measures such as slurry spreading using low emission slurry systems are proven to reduce ammonia emissions and improve responses from slurry applied.”

According to the ACA’s vice president: “The ACA is recommending that farmers plan now and take action to ensure that these recommendations do not limit output and affect the profitability of their enterprises.

For the future, it is critical that lands available to farmers are capable of sustaining planned stocking levels.

“Intensive farmers must take action now to address overstocking of their lands.”

Concluding, Canning said: “Many of the difficulties that arose in 2018 when drought hit Ireland were caused by overstocking.”