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Extension to the Period for Spreading of Slurry

Mr Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, today announced that, following consultation with Mr John Gormley TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and taking account of poor weather conditions in recent months, farmers will be allowed as an exceptional measure to spread slurry until the end of October, 2008.

Farmers have been concerned about their ability to meet the 15 October deadline for spreading slurry, as laid down in the Nitrates Regulations. Minister Smith said that the concession now being given is necessary, as the adverse weather conditions experienced in Ireland over the last few months have caused significant hardship for farmers and have made it extremely difficult to carry out regular farming activity. The exceptional rainfall has caused flooding of farmlands in many areas or has left land waterlogged, liable to severe damage by machinery and of course, unsuitable for the spreading of livestock manures for long periods of time.

"The high rainfall levels have meant that many farmers, mindful of the requirements on best practice in relation to spreading slurry, have struggled to complete their normal landspreading operations before the start of the prohibited period on 15 October.

In these circumstances, this two-week extension is justified and necessary. It will allow farmers an opportunity, weather and ground conditions permitting, to complete landspreading activities that for reasons outside of their control, have been curtailed during the last few months due to the exceptional weather conditions that we have experienced."

The Minister stressed that his announcement represents an extension of time only. All landspreading activity is conditional on weather and ground conditions being suitable as set out in the Nitrates Regulations. Livestock manures or any fertilisers may not be landspread when, for example, land is waterlogged, flooded or likely to flood, frozen or if heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours. Buffer zones are specified for different kinds of water bodies and fertilisers may not be applied within those buffer zones. In addition, the absolute prohibition on landspreading during the months of November and December remains.

Note for Editors

The European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2006 (SI No. 378 of 2006) were made by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in 2006. The Regulations came into effect on 1 August 2006 with later commencement dates for certain provisions.

The Regulations provide statutory support for good agricultural practice to protect waters from pollution form agricultural sources and include measures such as:

  • Set periods when land application of fertilisers is prohibited
  • Limits on the land application of fertilisers
  • Requirements in relation to landspreading of fertilisers
  • Requirements in relation to the storage and management of livestock manures

Under the Regulations, for any farmer with storage capacity that meets the minimum requirements on his holding, the prohibited period for landspreading of livestock manures such as slurry commences on 15 October. Farmers who do not yet have the required capacity may landspread up to 31 October under a transitional arrangement that will expire this year.

The extension announced by the Minister means delaying the start of the prohibited period for application of livestock manures from 15 October to 1 November for all farmers, not just those who do not yet have their storage capacity in place. This would allow farmers an additional two-weeks to complete their landspreading operations.

The requirements of the Regulations are set out in the Explanatory Handbook for Good Agricultural Practice Regulations issued to all farmers by the Department in 2006. The Handbook and Regulations are available on the Department's website:

Date Released: 10 October 2008