DARD decision not to extend chemical fertiliser application period short-sighted

Thursday, 5 September, 2013

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has described the Department of Agriculture’s (DARD) decision to not extend the chemical fertiliser application period as “short-sighted” and “very disappointing” especially given the very challenging grazing conditions this year. The comments were made following DARD’s confirmation that they would not grant a two week extension, as requested by the UFU, allowing farmers to spread chemical fertiliser until 30th September 2013.

UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “The weather this year has bounced from one extreme to the other, wreaking havoc on grazing conditions. The heat wave in July, while a welcome reprieve from our usual wet summer, has actually hindered grass growth and left poor grazing conditions in some areas. Livestock farmers need all the help they can get coming into the autumn period and the option of applying a chemical fertiliser until the end of this month could have helped to extend the grazing season. 

“There is evidence that since soil temperatures are higher than they would normally be at this time of year, applying chemical fertiliser for those extra two weeks would help to give a boost to grass growth. The Republic of Ireland has already granted its farmers an extension based on this evidence and I am baffled as to why our own Department would not do the same. We believe that farmers should have at least been given the option to decide for themselves if it would have been of economic benefit to them rather than being denied the opportunity by DARD. Now we have the farcical situation where a farmer in County Donegal can apply chemical fertiliser during the last two weeks of this month but his neighbour in Strabane cannot.”