The slurry spreading season came to a close yesterday (October 15) and according to the Minister of the Environment, Alan Kelly, there are no plans to extend it.
From October 15, farmers are not allowed to spread slurry on their lands under the rules of the Nitrates Directive.
As the graph below shows the closed period remains enforced until January 12 in the south-east, January 15 in the midlands and west and January 31 in northern counties.
Slurry is prohibited from being spread over the winter in Ireland so as to comply with the European Union’s Nitrates Directive.
The aim is to protect ground and surface water, including drinking water. The regulations also prohibit such application at any time of the year when the ground is frozen, waterlogged or heavy rain is forecast.
According to Environment Minister, Alan Kelly good agricultural practice involves the land spreading of organic fertilisers as early as practicable in the growing season in order to maximise the uptake of nutrients by crops and to minimise pollution risks to water courses and groundwaters.
He said in accordance with the requirements of the Nitrates Directive, the Regulations include provisions regarding periods when the land application of certain types of fertilisers is prohibited.
Responding to questioning from Limerick TD Partick O’Donovan, the Minister said he has no plans at present to extend the spreading periods for organic fertilisers.
Meanwhile, the closed period for spreading farm yard manure starts on November 1.
Failure to comply with these guidelines could lead to farmers Basic Payments potentially being penalised.