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Minister Coughlan announces plans for consultation with farm bodies on Nitrates Explanatory Handbook

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced her plans for consultation with the farming organisations on the Explanatory Handbook which will issue to all farmers to guide them on the requirements of the Nitrates Regulations [(European Communities) (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 378 of 2006)]. "My Department will be sending a draft of the Handbook to the farming organisations in the coming days," she said. "This Handbook will explain in clear terms what a farmer is obliged to do, or not do, under the new Regulations. Following these consultations, we will be sending a copy of the Handbook to every farmer along with a copy of the Regulations themselves."

Minister Coughlan said that her Department would be holding a series of information meetings around the country, in conjunction with Teagasc, at which farmers would be able to hear detailed explanations of the requirements in the Regulations, and to put their questions to experts. The meetings will be held during November.

Minister Coughlan also clarified that the application of organic fertilisers (slurry, etc.) in the autumn to autumn-sown crops is permitted under the Nitrates Regulations. However the nitrogen and phosphorus in any organic fertiliser applied in autumn has to be taken into account so that the maximum fertilisation rate for the crop is not exceeded.

Minister Coughlan said that these Regulations required farmers to take the necessary steps to prevent or minimise the application to land of fertilisers in excess of crop requirements. The Minister stressed that the application of organic fertilisers must be in accordance with all of the requirements of the Nitrates Regulations including the requirement relating to the prohibited application periods (which begin on the 1 November in the case of farmyard manure and 15th October in the case of other organic fertilisers).

20 September, 2006

Date Released: 20 September 2006