Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (699)

Danny Healy-Rae


699. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of promoting greater use of organic manures on farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30682/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The use of organic manures is important in supplying key nutrients for our cropping and grass based systems of production. Farmers are required to adhere to best practice as set out by the Nitrates Regulation (SI 605/2016) and the Nitrates Explanatory Handbook for Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water Regulations 2018. The implementation of these are through the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP), and farmers are obliged to comply with the NAP with regard to spreading organic manure i.e. Slurry/Organic Manures can be a very cost effective resource to maintain and increase soil fertility levels. The department promote the use of organic manures as efficiently as possible to ensure maximum nutrient recovery.

Innovation and the development of technology have further enhanced the use of organic manures within our systems of production. Low-emission slurry spreading (LESS) techniques has become increasingly popular.  LESS was included as a measure within the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) in 2015 and, as a measure for derogation farmers in 2017. It has received significant support under the Targetted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS). Over 2,000 farmers have been approved to purchase machinery.  In relation to payments, over 850 applicants have already been paid over €10m under the Low Emission Slurry Spreading Scheme.  In addition, a further 495 young farmers have invested in this equipment bringing the total spend under TAMS II on Low Emission Slurry Spreading to date to €15.2m. 

LESS can provide either through the use of a trailing shoe, dribble bar or injector system some significant benefits to the environment and improve the nutrient use efficiency of our organic manures. The benefits are as follows;

- can reduce the ammonia emissions up to 97% of those emitted with a splash plate

- LESS application process will increase the Nitrogen value by approximately three units per 1,000 gallons of slurry

- Improved flexibility with application as a result of reduced contamination of herbage, leading to a quicker return to grazing.

- The opportunity to apply slurry onto swards with larger grass covers.

- The odours released during and after application are also usually reduced when using a trailing shoe or band spreader method compared with a splash plate.