Don’t breach your Nitrates limits this year

The Department of Agriculture, are now notifying farmers in respect of their Nitrogen and Phosphorus (N and P) limits.

This is being done by text message and will cover the first six months of the year.

Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements for the period January 1 to June 30, 2016 are now available for all farmers online by registering on www.agfood.ie.

These N and P statements are a valuable tool, especially for the more intensive farmers, and should assist them in deciding whether or not they need to change their farming practices before the end of the year to stay within the limits set down in the Nitrates Regulations.

Farmers not already registered for agfood.ie can do so by logging onto www.agfood.ie and clicking the ‘Register’ button. To register a mobile phone number for future SMS text alerts log on to https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/mobileupdates/ to access the sign-on form, or alternatively contact the regional office.

If a herdowner does not have access to online or SMS text alert notification services, the interim N and P statements can be obtained from the regional office or from the Department’s Nitrates Section, Johnstown Castle, Wexford.

Nitrates derogations

The number of farmers applying for nitrates derogations is up over 50% since 2007, according to latest figures from the Department of Agriculture.

Some 6,323 farmers applied for the derogation in 2015 which allows farmers to exceed the limit of 170 kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare set down in the Nitrates Regulations, up to a maximum of 250 kg per hectare, subject to adherence to stricter rules.

The Department figures also show that 2,336 farmers breached the 170kg N/ha limit in 2014 and did not apply for a derogation. It says some may have exported slurry, rented/grazed other lands not declared on SPS 2014 or were affected with TB.

Teagasc says farmers using over 170kg N/ha who did not apply for a derogation have reduced significantly since 2007; however, in 2014 and 2015 these have risen due to increased stock numbers, mainly on dairy farms.

Fewer farmers are over 250kg N/ha, as farmers are reducing stocking rates or exporting slurry to comply.

There are penalties for farmers who exceed 170kg organic N/ha, but who did not apply for a derogation in that year

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