Get your nitrates records ready, a NI view

Cross-Compliance inspections, as part of the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) Regulations, have commenced and inspections are currently being carried out by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

The NAP and Phosphorus Regulations require farmers to keep records. Records must be kept for each calendar year, from 1 January to 31 December. These annual records must be prepared by 30 June of the following year and be retained for a period of five years. NIEA will require Nitrates records to be available on farm for 2008 to 2012 inclusive.

If your farm is selected for an inspection you will need to have the following details available for NIEA:

  • The agricultural area of the farm including the size, location and crop present for each field. This information is on your Single Application Form, or you could use your most up-to-date farm map. If you are not the owner you will be required to provide evidence that you control the land. If you farm common land, you need to provide evidence of the rights of use and the area.
  • The numbers of livestock on the farm and the breakdown of species, type and length of time kept on farm. These records can be sourced from the Herd Register or APHIS online (to access these records use the Nitrates Stock Count option). Stock numbers should be taken at least on the 1st day of each alternate month. For example, 1 Feb, 1 Apr, 1 Jun, 1 Aug, 1 Oct, 1 Dec.
  • The amount, type and dates of any imported or exported organic manure. In addition you will need to have names and addresses of the person providing/receiving this manure and the transporter if he/she is a third party.
  • Fertiliser details. This includes the tonnage and the N & P content of all chemical fertiliser stocks held at the start and end of the year. You need to provide dated invoices or receipts showing certified N and P content of chemical fertiliser and amounts purchased. Records of the tonnage and N and P content of any chemical fertiliser imported in and exported off the farm are also required.
  • Livestock manure storage capacity. From 2009 you have been required to record these details. You will be asked for confirmation of slurry storage capacity for example, dimensions of tanks, e.g. 25m by 4m by 1.8m and 10m by 8m by 1.8m. In addition, you will need to know how many stock and length of time they were housed during the winter. Provided certain criteria are met there are allowances for out-wintering, animals in bedded accommodation, separated cattle slurry, renting additional tanks, poultry litter stored in a midden or field heap and exporting manure to approved outlets. If you wish to avail of any of these allowances, you need to keep additional records.
  • Cropping areas, record the Soil Nitrogen Supply (SNS) index for land growing crops other than grassland and the amount of N applied through organic manures and chemical fertilisers.
  • Record the size and location of each field to which chemical fertiliser containing P has been applied and the type of crop grown. You also need the results of P soil test for each field to which chemical fertiliser containing P has been applied.
  • Chemical P fertiliser records should also include the type and quantity of all chemical fertilisers containing P and the date applied to the field.
  • Statement of foreseeable P requirements of the crop.

Although the phosphorus regulations are not a verifiable standard under cross-compliance, compliance with the regulation is a legal requirement.

If you need help with the NAP measures on nutrient limits, storage requirements and record keeping, then log onto http://www.dardni.gov.uk/ruralni/environment/countrysidemanagement and use the Farm Nutrient Management Calculators that are designed to help you meet the requirements of the NAP. Alternatively a NAP workbook is available from your local DARD Direct office or online at http://www.dardni.gov.uk/ruralni/index/environment/countrysidemanagement/nap2011-2014.htm

For further information about the current NAP and Phosphorus Regulations please consult the most recent “Nitrates Action Programme 2011-2014 and Phosphorus Regulations Guidance Booklet” which was updated in November 2012. This booklet is available online at http://www.dardni.gov.uk/ruralni/index/environment/countrysidemanagement/nap2011-2014.htm

By Mark Kingston, Countryside Management Delivery Branch, DARD

Image: Fertiliser spreading on grassland O’Gorman Photography

 

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