The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) have requested an extension to slurry and fertiliser spreading deadlines for this Autumn.
The FCI have requested the urgent attention from Minister Creed to consult with fellow ministers, and allow for an extension to the farm animal slurry land spreading dates beyond the October 15th deadline. They also called for an extension to be made to mineral fertiliser spreading dates, which is currently set at September 15th.
They FCI have called for an extra month extension to be granted in both cases, in light of the recent drought conditions witnessed over the past two months. They say this will provide ample opportunity to contractors to complete their land-spreading activities, weather and ground conditions permitting, after their recent struggles to get anything spread.
The past two months has seen little to no slurry or fertiliser spread as ground was simply too hard and there was a severe lack of rain to help absorb anything spread. Contractors throughout the country are now concerned, according to the FCI, that they will simply not be able to meet these deadline dates in the interest of safety.
As a result, Farm Contractors in Ireland are facing into a very busy month of October, with the FCI predicting that silage harvesting will continue until the end of October this year.
“We are is predicting that the grass silage harvesting will extend at least towards the end of October, even if weather conditions bring much-needed rainfall in the coming week.” said FCI National Chairman, Richard White.
“This will be coming at a time when the much larger national maize harvest will also be coming early. It will also coincide with current animal slurry spreading deadline date, all of which will be difficult to achieve in practice and in safety”, he said.
Mr. White also said that grass growth is not expected to return until late August, which is why they are requesting an extension to fertiliser spreading deadlines.
“In order to cope with the current grazing challenges and the expected return to growth in late August, we believe that ground and soil conditions will allow for the optimum uptake of mineral fertilizers later this year, where grazing and late silage will be urgently required,” said FCI National Chairman Richard White.
“We understand that the Irish maize silage area has grown by close to 70% this year, due to the late spring cereal growing conditions. Combining this with the short window for hedge-cutting work and the need to sow grass seeds, which was aborted due to lack of rain in May and June, plus the demands of winter cereal sowing, and muck spreading deadline dates, will all mean a very busy month of October for Farm Contractors,” he concluded.
Further reasons for an extension-
The FCI believe that this will put a huge additional workload on Farm Contractors, coinciding with the slurry spreading deadline dates and the requirement to harvest grass silage crops to replace the depleted first cuts on many dairy farms in particular.
They noted that there will be a huge national workload on contractor services at a time when seasonal and student workers will no longer be available. They also noted that given current unprecedented soil moisture deficit levels, ground conditions will remain suitable for the spreading of slurry in early November, with no environmental risks associated.
Richard White says postponing any extension decision will only increase the health and safety risks facing contractors, creating a last minute panic for farmers and contractors.
“Postponing the decision to extend the slurry and fertilizer spreading deadline dates to the last minute will only increase the health and safety risks on farms in a year when we have already reported a very high national level of farm accidents and fatalities”, said the FCI National Chairman.
“Creating a last minute panic and an expectation that the slurry must be spread before the October 15 deadline, against the backdrop of more than 10 weeks of exceptionally dry weather conditions, can be considered to be tantamount to creating an additional and unnecessary health and safety risk on many farms.”, he added.
The FCI concluded with one final call for Minister Creed to put these extensions in place this year and help farmers, currently in a difficult period. They believe that planned extension dates will allow contractors to complete their land-spreading operations, in safety and with due efficacy, on behalf of farming customers.