High uptake of Nitrates derogation predicted

Up to 60 per cent of farmers will be seeking Nitrates’ derogation.

This was the opinion expressed by West Cork farm consultant Claire Greehy, following the news that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will notify certain farmers in the coming days of their interim Nitrogen and Phosphorus (N&P) statement, covering cattle numbers held on the farm for the nine month period  to the end of September.

This will be done by text, with messages issued to those farmers whose cattle numbers would indicate that they may be approaching or exceeding the limits set down in the Nitrates regulations.

“Dairy, suckler beef and drystock farms will be affected in equal measure,”Greehy added.

“This information is crucially important, especially for those farmers who may exceed the 170 kilos of organic Nitrogen spreading rate, laid down within the Nitrates Directive.

“These producers will have no option but to seek a Nitrates’ derogation for 2014.  I am based in West Cork and I am expecting that  15 per cent to 20 per cent of my clients will have no option but to apply for a derogation. These are mostly cattle and sheep farmers. However, in the intensive dairying areas this figure could well rise to 55 per cent or even 60 per cent. There is an added complication for those farmers keeping sheep, as they will have to factor this aspect of their business into the N & P loading figures for the cattle they own.”

Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements for the period 1 January to 30 September 2013 will be available on-line from tomorrow for all farmers registered with agfood.ie.

These N&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 herd owner does not have access to online or SMS text alert notification services, the interim N&P statements can be obtained from the regional offices or from the Department’s Nitrates Section, Johnstown Castle, Wexford.

Farmers and advisors are reminded of the requirements to have all Record of movement of organic fertiliser (Record 3) and Proof of 2013 Rental/Grazing agreement (Record 5) forms submitted to Nitrates Section, Johnstown Castle Estate on or before 31 December 2013. Forms received after that date will not be eligible for nitrates credit. The only acceptable proof of postage will be Swift Post or Registered Post receipts.

Fertiliser spreading. Photo O’Gorman Photography.