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Minister Smith Announces Relaxation of 'Green Cover' Requirements

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today announced that, following discussions with John Gormley TD, Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the requirement for cereal farmers to establish green cover on arable lands will be relaxed this winter so as to allow farmers to plough for spring cereals from 1st December next rather than 15th January, the date provided for in the Nitrates Regulations.

Minister Smith said "Rather than waiting for the review of the Nitrates Action Programme next year, Minister Gormley and I agreed that something needed to be done now to help cereal farmers to benefit from earlier ploughing for spring cereals."

"The advice from Teagasc is that due to low soil temperatures in December and January, this adjustment can be made without any substantial increase in the risk of leaching of nitrates," said Minister Smith. "This relaxation in the requirement for green cover will allow earlier ploughing for spring cereals. It is accepted that early ploughing has a number of advantages including an improved seedbed due to the effects of winter weathering, reduced disease and pest carryover from one growing season to the next and a more evenly distributed workload for farmers".

Minister Smith said that he was "pleased with this significant development for tillage farmers, which will be of considerable benefit for those ploughing spring cereals and said that the decision reflected the scientific advice provided by Teagasc. Farmers need to be aware of the risk of soil erosion and the need to ensure that they do not contribute to soil erosion when they are ploughing."

Date Released: 12 October 2009