The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a statement this morning, Monday, October 7, outlining that, currently, there are “no plans to allow slurry to be spread during the closed period”.

The statement outlined that nitrates regulations are the responsibility of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

It noted that this department establishes the dates after which fertiliser (organic or inorganic) must not be applied to land. This is referred to as the closed period.

The table below outlines the closed periods for the three regions in the Republic of Ireland:

According to the department’s statement, research from the agricultural catchment programme shows that nutrient loss is “twice as likely during the closed period as at any other time of the year”.

Challenging conditions

The confirmation comes as current ground conditions in many parts of the country at the moment are being described as “challenging and deteriorating”.

In light of this, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) environmental chairman, Thomas Cooney, has called on local authority and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine inspectors to “show an understanding of this, as the open period for the spreading of organic manures comes to an end”.

Continuing, the environmental chairman and candidate for deputy president in the upcoming IFA elections said: “Grass is the cheapest form of feed for livestock and many farmers have tried to manage their costs in this very difficult year by grazing out fields and paddocks, only to get caught by the deluge of rain in many parts of the country in recent weeks.”

He concluded: “Farmers should not be penalised for doing the right thing by not spreading slurry in recent weeks when the weather deteriorated.”