The slurry spreading ban ends for a considerable number of farmers in the west of Ireland tomorrow (January16) according to Ballinasloe-based Teagasc advisor Joe Curtin.

“That’s in theory,” he said.

“The reality is that large tracts of land in the Roscommon area remain fully saturated with water. Slurry cannot be put out on ground where these conditions prevail, as it will simply run-off into watercourses.

“In addition, the current cold snap has led to frozen ground conditions developing in many parts of the north-west. And, again, slurry cannot be spread while these circumstances prevail.”

Curtin acknowledges that many farmers in his catchment area want to get slurry out as quickly as possible.

“Farmers who had their tanks filled with flood water over recent weeks were given a dispensation to spread some slurry.

“This was simply to ease the pressure they were coming under.

“But now that the spreading ban is about to be officially lifted, my strong advice to farmers is to preferentially select the driest parts of their farms when it comes to getting slurry out over the coming weeks.”

Curtin said that the jury is out on whether the recent heavy rains will delay the start of the 2016 grazing season in the west.

“It really depends on the weather over the coming weeks.

“All the grass that was available on farms in November past is still there. But ground conditions will dictate how and when it can be grazed.

“Large acreages of land adjacent to the Shannon have been underwater for 7 weeks. History has shown that old swards can survive these conditions and should grow on, once ground conditions improve.

“However, more recent re-seeds, containing high levels of perennial ryegrass varieties, may not be as resilient. But we won’t know the extent of any damage created, if any, until the land dries out properly.”

Curtin confirmed that the fodder aid scheme had been welcomed by farmers in the west.

“But there is a group of producers who put in place their own flood defences,” he said.

“In so doing, they managed to save their own forage stocks, but at a considerable costs. There is talk that a second aid scheme will be introduced to complement the fodder support measure. I expect that public representatives in the Galway: Roscommon area will be calling for its immediate introduction.”