Late harvest leads to other problems
Work is at an advanced stage to extend the closing date for fertiliser spreading until the end of September.
The standard closing date for fertiliser applications on all farms is September 15 and October 15 in the case of slurry spreading.
However, delayed harvesting coupled with chronic shortages of fodder have created a set of exceptional circumstances, according to the IFA.
The Departments of Agriculture and the Environment have confirmed that they are considering the issue with a view to presenting a case for a derogation to EU Commission officials.
The delay in the harvest is having knock-on effects on drilling dates for most winter cereal crops.
According to the IFA's environment executive, Thomas Ryan, up to 25pc of cereal crops remain to be harvested in the northern half of the country and straw is yet to be cleared from much of the southern half.
As a result, drilling of winter sown crops such as wheat and barley has been delayed and farmers risk being forced to drill the crops without essential phosphorous compounds to aid rooting.
Dairy farmers are also keen to spread nitrogen on their paddocks to maximise grass growth for stock this winter and early next spring.
Teagasc's John Donworth said that securing additional grass growth this autumn would be more important than ever.
"The economics of spreading fertiliser in the latter half of September have normally been a bit of a gamble," said Mr Donworth.
"You are relying on weather conditions being good enough to support growth rates of over 40kg/ha drymatter per day for about six weeks after you spread to utilise all the nitrogen.
It's quite possible that we could get this into October, but it all depends on the weather."
Mr Donworth said that most of his discussion groups in the southwest were looking at applying a bag of CAN per acre before mid-September.
However, he admitted that with the shortage of silage and the cost of meals and fodder, many farmers would be prepared to take the gamble to keep spreading if the extension period was approved.
"The shortage of feed at farm level and the price of supplements has changed the economics of later spreading," he explained.
"This will be particularly true in situations where there is a two to three-year-old reseed or where two cuts of silage have been taken."
Similar extensions to the October 15 deadline for slurry spreading are also under review.
- Darragh McCullough