The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017, as amended, give legal effect in Ireland to the Nitrates Directive and to our Nitrates Action Programme. The Nitrates Directive requires all member states to define set periods when the land application of fertiliser, including slurry, is not allowed and in Ireland the closed season commences on 15 October.
The closed periods for land application of fertiliser in Ireland were decided following extensive consultation and were discussed with farming bodies and the European Commission as Ireland introduced the Nitrates Action Programme. The provisions of the Regulations are underpinned by scientific research and good agricultural practice. The most recent scientific studies carried out on a diverse range of farm and soil types as part of Teagasc’s ongoing Agricultural Catchments Programme have provided further evidence in support of regulating spreading periods as an effective means of reducing nutrient losses to waters.
While acknowledging the challenging weather conditions experienced during certain periods this year, including in recent weeks, I do not have any plans to make changes to the slurry spreading deadline. However, I will continue to keep this matter under review in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.