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Ministers Agree Flexibility Regarding Shallow Cultivation Dates

In recognition of the recent unseasonably wet period of weather, Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage in consultation with Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has agreed to allow an extended of dates for farmers to complete the shallow cultivation measure required post-harvest of certain tillage crops.

The current 14-day period to complete the shallow cultivation measure has been extended to 28 days for crops that are harvested up to the 4th of August. Where shallow cultivation is required on this land, it must be done by 1st of September.

Announcing the decision Minister O’Brien stated, “I recognise recent weather conditions have made it particularly difficult for many farmers to harvest crops and clear straw to allow shallow cultivation take place.”

Since mid-July it has been exceptionally wet in many places as evidenced by Met Eireann data which shows over the 7 days to 27th July rainfall in some cases has been in excess of 300% of the 30-year mean. Looking to the forecast, Met Eireann states the national outlook is remaining unsettled into next week with further outbreaks of rain or showers expected.

Commenting on the flexibility on the shallow cultivation dates, Minister McConalogue stated, “some early crops of winter barley were successfully harvested with shallow cultivation completed, however for more recently harvested crops that are many instances where straw is already lying on the ground for over 14 days as it has not been dry enough to bale. When weather conditions improve this straw will have to be “tedded out” to dry before being raked up again to facilitate baling. In difficult weather conditions tillage farmers have to prioritise trying to save their grain to avoid further loses. I recognise harvesting grain must be the priority ahead of clearing straw; the flexibility agreed by my colleague, Minister O’Brien will allow this.”

There is already flexibility for farmers in the rules around shallow cultivation of land post-harvest. Thes flexibilities include an exemption for all land where a winter cereal crop, oilseed rape or beans is due to be sown by the 31st of October. In addition, to avoid unduly impacting the source of food for seed eating birds, there is a requirement not to conduct shallow cultivation post-harvest on 20% to 25% of the total cereal land area on each holding.

Minister McConalogue pointed out, “these flexibilities cover a very significant majority of the land already harvested/being harvested at present. However this situation will quickly change as the Spring Barley harvest commences.”

Minister McConalogue concluded by saying he and Minister O’Brien agreed the situation should be reviewed again in a week’s time and a further extension may be considered at that stage if necessary.