The topic of Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) is one that has made and will continue to make the headlines over the next few weeks.

The main confusion is based on farmers’ current requirement to reduce the production on the holding of bovine livestock manure nitrogen by 5% for the period July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, as compared with the period July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

We have heard plenty of debates in recent months regarding this requirement, but for the time being it is here to stay.

Nitrates allocation

For this requirement, the focus is on the level of nitrogen from bovine livestock manure. The figures are calculated by taking the average number of animals in each age category you have over the 12 month period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

The age categories and allocated nitrates produced by these animals are listed below.

Yearly nitrates allocation for each animal:

  • Dairy cows: 85kg (For the purposes of BEAM, the dairy cow organic nitrogen rate will remain at 85 kg);
  • Suckler cows: 65kg;
  • Cattle 0-1 yrs: 24kg;
  • Cattle 1-2 yrs: 57kg;
  • Cattle 2 yrs+: 65kg.

Completing the calculation is as follows; the farm’s average number of stock in each age category is multiplied by the total annual nitrate production allocated to their age category.

When calculating these figures for each month just be aware of animals that may move between different age categories as they get older.

Once these figures have been tallied up for each age category of animals on your farm, add all of the nitrogen production figures together and this will give you the farm’s total nitrogen production for the 12-month period.

The target is to have a 5% reduction of this bovine livestock manure nitrogen for the period July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, in comparison to the period July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

Advice if you are still unsure

There is a potential threat of penalties being imposed on money paid to farmers from the scheme if the 5% target is not achieved.

If you are unsure of where you stand with your nitrate production, avoid buying in anymore cattle until you find out your current production levels.

The best thing that a farmer can do if they are confused is to contact their agricultural advisor for advice on what the options are. You can also contact the Department of Agriculture directly by emailing them at [email protected]

If farmers are signed up to HerdPlus, there is a BEAM calculator feature on the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF)website. This allows farmers to calculate their current nitrogen production while also showing if they are on target as they enter the last five months.