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Minister McConalogue and Teagasc plan fertiliser alternative strategy

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD has today engaged with Teagasc to seek a roadmap that will seek to maintain farm output whilst reducing the use of chemical fertiliser on farms and deal with the rising cost and availability of fertilisers internationally . Minister McConalogue spoke with incoming Teagasc director Frank O'Mara on Wednesday where they agreed to examine all options in order to provide farmers with viable advice to run their farming business whilst reducing dependence on chemical fertiliser. The report will look at the short, medium and long term options of farmers reducing chemical fertiliser usage.  The move comes in the context of a spike in fertiliser prices both at home but also internationally in recent weeks due, primarily, to increases energy costs. Minister McConalogue and Frank O'Mara agreed that there is untapped potential in more strategic use of cattle and pig slurry as well as farmyard manure and alternative fertiliser to grow grass and reduce costs.  They also agreed that there needs to be a greater focus around lime and soil testing. Minister McConalogue recently launched an innovative €10m soil sampling initiative. Commenting on the development, Minister McConalogue said: "I'm acutely conscious of the situation around fertiliser prices which is very much an international issue. While I cannot control prices or influence the market, I believe there are options on the island where we can grow more grass while reduce our dependency on chemical fertiliser. This will have benefits for both farmers but also for the environment. We are very lucky to have Teagasc at our disposal and I know they will deliver a report and roadmap that will serve our sector, our farmers and our environment well. "I know Frank and his team will deal with this plan and roadmap as a matter of urgency and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition."