Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett has said the overuse of synthetic fertilisers will eventually turn land into barren deserts on which nothing will grow.

Speaking in the Seanad where she highlighted an upcoming Department reseeding scheme which will provide multi species sward seed at no extra cost, the Minister said: “I have said before that I believe chemical nitrogen free pasture management can be the future.

“Managing a multispecies sward is different from simply applying nitrogen. In some ways it’s more difficult, in other ways it’s easier. But I certainly believe it’s worth it, not just for the potential saving on fertiliser costs, but also for the satisfaction we can all derive from healthy soils, from feeding our animals and our land in a way which works for them and for us and for the climate challenges ahead.”

Referring to the dangers of overuse of synthetic fertilisers, Minister Hackett said we are “a long way off this situation in Ireland” but that if we continue to apply enough of it for long enough that it will continue pollute our rivers which, in turn, will “turn our soil into a barren desert in which nothing will grow”.

Hackett also acknowledged that while “chemical nitrogen helps grass grow, so does naturally fixed nitrogen. And clover is a really efficient natural nitrogen fixing machine.”