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Agriculture; Food and the Marine | Land fertility and emission reduction programmes

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which his Department continues to advise the farming community regarding optimum levels of fertiliser permissible, in order to meet land fertility requirements and emission reduction targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) is the competent authority for Statutory Instrument (S.I.) Number 113 of 2022; the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2022.  These Regulations give effect to Ireland’s 5th Nitrates Action Programme.  

My Department works closely with DHLGH on the Regulations and development, as well as implementation, of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme.

The technical tables in Schedule 2 of S.I. No. 113 of 2022 set out the maximum permissible limits of nitrogen and phosphorous fertiliser allowed for agricultural crops.  These provide the optimum nutrient requirements for crop growth.

The associated technical tables within S.I. No. 113 of 2022 are based on scientific research outcomes primarily guided by Teagasc, the State agency providing research, advisory and training services to the agri-food industry. In July 2020 Teagasc published their most recent edition of “Major and micro nutrient advice for productive agricultural crops”.  This book provides advice on crop fertiliser requirements.

Under Ireland’s 5th Nitrates Action Programme, which came into effect earlier this year, the maximum chemical nitrogen allowances for grassland were reduced by 10%. In addition to contributing to improved water quality, this measure will provide an associated co-benefit of reducing national greenhouse gas emissions.

My Department informs the agricultural advisory services, which include Teagasc, the Agricultural Consultants Association and other private agricultural advisors, on any regulatory changes regarding nutrient allowances. Additionally, all agricultural advisors working on Department schemes, are Farm Advisory Service accredited, to ensure a consistent understanding and the provision of appropriate nutrient advice to farmers.  

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