New announcement from DAFM
There was more news from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine last week, as Minister Charlie McConalogue announced the opening of the new National Liming Programme for 2023. Funded to the tune of €8 million, the new scheme aims to provide financial assistance to farmers who want to lime their land. This will help to offset what can often be a significant cost.
What the Minister said
Speaking at the launch of the new scheme, the Minister emphasised the benefits that lime can deliver when applied to agricultural land:
“Lime is an important component of achieving balanced soil health, improving nutrient use efficiency and thereby reducing the requirements of chemical fertilisers and contributing to both climate and water targets. By having a balanced soil pH, we will reduce the need for artificial fertilisers which is good for the environment and good for the farmer’s pocket.”
The National Liming Programme: what is it worth to farmers?
According to the Department announcement, farmers who are approved for the programme will receive a financial contribution of €16 per tonne of Calcium ground limestone or Magnesium ground limestone.
While this can hardly be considered a massive contribution, it is significant and could make the difference for a lot of farmers who are currently finding it hard to make ends meet.
Lime: is it really so important?
Many of us will welcome the announcement of any financial assistance when it comes to liming. There is no doubt that lime is indeed an effective and more environmentally-friendly way of improving farm yields. According to Teagasc, liming is extremely beneficial for soil microbes and also has the potential to unlock soil phosphorous and potassium.
For those interested in emissions targets, the increase in soil pH associated with liming may significantly reduce Nitrous Oxide emissions, while also increasing crop growth.
This means that lime is good for land and the wider environment.
Lime deficiency on Irish land
It is undeniable that most Irish farms (including my own!) are in serious need of liming. According to DAFM, up to 57% of our soils require lime, because rain washes it from the earth. The increased annual rainfall in Ireland means a lot of agricultural land in Ireland has seriously depleted levels of the mineral.
More to the point, with the cost of artificial fertilisers now hugely inflated as a result of the war in Ukraine, many of us should regard liming as a key alternative.
However, before you decide to lime, it is always best to have the pH of your land checked. Most research indicates that a pH level between 6 and 6.3 is best for pasture, and a pH between 6.5 and 7 is optimal for tillage.
The National Liming Programme: how can I apply?
Farmers who wish to apply for the new 2023 programme should do so via www.agfood.ie before the closing date of 20th April, 2023.