Concerns as close period nears

There have been increasing calls this week for Farm Minister Michelle McIlveen to consider extending the open period for slurry spreading.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 2nd October 2016, 8:32 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 1:56 pm

October 15 is the cut-off for spreading slurry but given the poor weather conditions there has been little opportunity for spreading.

Fermanagh and Omagh Ulster Unionist councillor Bert Wilson told Farming Life that conditions in counties Tyrone and Fermanagh have reached crisis point.

“West of the Bann the farming industry is in serious problems,” he said.

“A lot of farmers have empty silos because they can’t get the silage cut and taken off the fields.

“Added to that, there are farmers who have had to bring cattle in which means they have used up virtually all their first cut silage.”

Mr Wilson explained that it was becoming a vicious circle for farmers as they were now faced with full slurry tanks and the prospect of no time to get it spread.

He continued: “This situation is serious. We have had more wet weather this week and farmers have had no opportunity to get the silage off the fields and the slurry onto them.

“Those farmers who have cut silage now find themselves with areas of land that will need reseeding, which means it will impact on those individuals into 2017.

“I have spoken to the minister and stressed the need for an open-ended extension.”

Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association has also joined the call for an open spreading period.

NIAPA chairman Michael Clarke said: “It is imperative that DARD consider the prevailing conditions and enable producers to empty tanks when conditions allow by ensuring flexibility with the closing date for spreading.

“Harvesting conditions and grass quality and quantity conserved for the winter coupled with the fact that stock is being housed earlier should also make the industry take note of the potential for an extra demand for winter feed and allow the powers that be to plan accordingly.”