Extension to the chemical fertiliser application deadline called for

An extension to the closing date for the spreading of chemical fertiliser has been called for by Fianna Fail’s Jackie Cahill.

If the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, extended the deadline by two weeks, it would allow farmers to build up a “bank of grass when the rain comes”, according to deputy Cahill.

As it stands, the closed period for the spreading of chemical fertilisers begins on September 15. Chemical fertiliser means any fertiliser that is manufactured by an industrial process; this encompasses artificial fertiliser products containing nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P).

Speaking in the Dail, he said: “I suggest that the closing date for the spreading of chemical fertiliser be extended by two weeks.

Rain will come at some stage and we must exploit the amount of grass that we can grow.

“We have to extend the grazing season and we have to build up a bank of grass when the rain comes.

“Stock will need to be kept out well into the autumn and early winter and we have to get that date extended. This is a practical step that the minister can take,” he added.

‘We cannot sleepwalk into a crisis’

Farmers have been faced with a number of serious challenges in recent months and the Fianna Fail TD and dairy farmer believes that measures need to be put in place to combat any potential problems down the line.

“We have come out of one of the worst winters we have experienced in a long time and we are now in a drought, the worst since 1976. In a year when we wanted serious grass and crop growth, the first crops are being used to supplement animals.

We cannot sleepwalk into the crisis that will come in the winter of 2018 and the spring of 2019.

“We must put measures in place now to try to ensure that we have enough fodder in place – both from an animal welfare point of view and an economic perspective – to get through the six month winter that faces us,” he said.

No measure being ruled out

In response, Minister Creed assured deputy Cahill that – at this stage – the department will not be “ruling out any measures”.

While the minister accepted the point relating to the date for the application of chemical fertiliser, he stated that the deadline is “some way off yet“.

Concluding, Minister Creed stated that his department will look at the issue regarding chemical fertiliser application dates – as well as other measures to alleviate pressure on farmers due to the current challenges.