Slurry petition calls for end to ‘calendar farming craziness’
Approximately 2,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the slurry ban to be scrapped in Northern Ireland.
The push comes just days before this year’s ban is due to end.
The petition was launched by the founder of Farm Flix – a farming video firm – John McClean and calls for an end to “calendar farming craziness”.
‘I wanted to do something about it’
He said: “The purpose of the ban is to protect the environment; but, the weather doesn’t heed the calendar.
Farmers have been forced to spread during wet weather before the winter closed period, which ironically has been followed by weeks of dry weather after the cut-off date.
“Similarly, farmers who could spread in a dry January have been forced to spread during wet February weather – to ease the pressure on full storage tanks.
“We started the petition last February as part of our ‘slurry gas kills’ safety campaign, after a farm death happened just before the ban started. I was fed up hearing about people dying because of slurry and wanted to do something about it.”
‘I could see the situation objectively’
While out filming, McClean could see the dry January followed by a wet February.
Continuing, he said: “I’m not a farmer, so I could see the situation objectively and had nothing to lose by speaking out.
We started the campaign before we could get any politicians to engage with us and – as one of the quirks of social media – it has bubbled up again and has really taken off this time.
As part of the campaign, the Farm Flix team measured the gases released after six different slurry tanks had been mixed.
McClean added that the deadline only adds pressure to an already dangerous job – causing farmers to try to rush the process and take unnecessary risks.
On the final day of the slurry spreading season in 2017, two men were hospitalised in Fintona, Co. Tyrone.
He said: “The pressure of spreading slurry before a calendar date adds to the risks of an already dangerous job. Slurry gas kills and a calendar deadline forces farmers to work in less than ideal conditions.
“Farmers understand the benefits of slurry being used in the growing season and the benefit to the environment of not spreading in wet weather; so give them the flexibility to do the job better and safer.”