The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA‘s) online system for submitting applications for a Nutrient Action Programme (NAP) derogation in 2023 has opened today (Thursday, January 19).

The NAP derogation is vital to some Northern Ireland cattle farms with higher stocking rates, according to the department.

Subject to meeting certain nutrient management and environmental criteria, it enables farmers to better utilise the nutrients within grazing livestock manures and operate more efficiently at a higher stocking rate.

Having a derogation allows farmers to operate up to a manure Nitrogen Loading limit of 250kg nitrogenn (N)/ha/year, compared to the general limit of 170 kg N/ha/year in the NAP.

This allows farmers to maximise the use of manure nutrients on their farm and reduce their use of additional chemical fertilisers. 

DAERA is therefore encouraging farmers to check their farm nitrogen loading figures via its online services and apply for a NAP derogation if necessary.

Farmers who intend to apply for a derogation must prepare a fertilisation plan for the holding by March 1, and keep it updated during the year.

The submission of 2022 fertilisation accounts for derogated farms are now also being accepted.

Farmers can submit their applications at DAERA online services for 2023 applications; submission of 2022 records and all applications and records must be submitted by March 1.

For non-derogated farms, records of 2022 organic manure exports must be submitted via DAERA online services by January 31.

Failure to submit manure export/derogation records on time could result in a penalty being applied to the basic payment, the department warned.