Ground limestone usage rose 8% last year

There was an 8% increase in ground limestone usage between 2015 and 2016, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Figures from its ‘2016 Annual Report’ showed that ground limestone usage was 967,281t last year– up 73,551t on 2015 – with overall fertiliser nutrient usage rising just 2% over the same period.

The department highlighted that the sale of fertiliser and lime is regulated by both EU and Irish legislation, which ensures that products are labelled accurately and meet minimum nutrient requirements.

Under the fertiliser and lime inspection programme for 2016, a total of 231 samples were taken at manufacturers’ premises – 167 fertiliser samples and 64 lime samples.

A total of 614 individual analysis were carried out for fertilisers, showing an out of tolerance of 2.3%, the department said. A total of 256 individual lime analysis were undertaken too, resulting in 5.5% out of tolerance.

As such, the department said the level of out of tolerance found continues to be low.

“There were two infringements relating to labelling and both were addressed by the manufacturers. All analytical infringements relating to test results in 2016 were recorded, followed up and resolved as part of the annual inspection programme,” the department said.

In discussing nitrates derogation, the report highlighted that farmers are required to comply with a stocking rate limit of 170kg of nitrogen (N) from livestock manure per 1ha per year. This was under the Nitrates Directive.

Stressing that the application system for nitrates derogation was now “100% online”, the department said over 6,800 farmers applied for the derogation in 2016.

This was an 8% increase on 2015, allowing applicants to farm at a higher stocking rate of 250kg N/ha, subject to additional conditions.

The full report can be accessed here.