Agricultural machinery suppliers have expressed varying levels of uncertainty regarding the specifications required in order to be eligible for TAMS tillage grant aid.
Derek Delahunty, Lemken, said: "I normally use the specification sheet provided by the Department of Agriculture but, as of last week, it was nowhere to be found online. It must have been taken down."
When asked what products Lemken supplies that are eligible and ineligible, Delahunty responded: "The Rubin 9 and Rubin 12 are both covered under the scheme - they are primary disc-type cultivators. Our Heliodor is not covered under the scheme, but then the Heliodor is not a primary disc cultivator.
"Other eligible machinery includes the Karat cultivators and our sprayers."
The main issue Delahunty had with the scheme, however, was in relation to the drills. "Most drills won't qualify according to the specifications in their current form. That may have to be looked at."
"We have been very busy in Northern Ireland; not quite as busy down south lately."
Delahunty suggests that some clarification is needed, particularly in relation to the drill aspects of the scheme, for more success.
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Martin Owens, of IAM Agricultural Machinery, also commented on the matter. Asked if he had encountered any difficulties with tillage equipment specifications for TAMS, Owens said: "No, we only bring in Gregoire Besson Disco Mix cultivators with solid Eco-Max crumblers – so we were fine in that regard".
He said the only real drawback with the scheme specifications was with the sprayers. High controller requirements are specified, he said. This was not a big deal; some sprayers just needed extras put on.
Noting the rather moderate uptake by tillage farmers for the scheme, Owens commented: "Unless they absolutely have to, they won't jump for such investment. With prices the way they are, guys are being conservative."
Owens believes that timing may also have been an issue for buyers of sprayers and such equipment. He said: "Any delays in the process of buying and bringing in the equipment would be time lost for using the equipment. The scheme might have been more effective, had it been put in place a few months earlier – giving farmers more time to decide."