Nitrates derogation application process now open

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has announced that 2021 nitrates derogation applications can now be submitted using the Department of Agriculture’s on-line portal.

Farmers are being advised to contact their agricultural advisor to determine if they should avail of the derogation.

The nitrates derogation provides farmers an opportunity to farm at higher stocking rates, subject to certain requirements and conditions related to the environment.

The derogation is contingent on meeting water quality standards.

2021 will see a full review of the nitrates regulations, including the derogation facility.

Almost 6,500 intensively stocked farmers availed of the derogation in 2020.

“I would encourage more intensively stocked farmers to engage early with this application process and discuss the need for a derogation with their agricultural advisor,” Minister McConalogue said.

The Department of Agriculture says farmers can remain compliant with the regulations by managing their livestock; exporting enough slurry or farmyard manure; or renting additional land.

The derogation allows farmers to exceed the limit of 170kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare set down in the nitrates regulations, up to a maximum of 250kg/ha, subject to stricter rules.

The derogation is only open to farmers with a holding that is at least 80% grass, and all slurry applied under derogation must be applied only using low-emission equipment. Furthermore, 50% of all slurry produced on a derogation farm must be spread before June 15.

Other measures must also be carried out, including (but not limited to): the incorporation of clover where grass is being sown; grass measurement and recording; and attendance at environmental training.

The closing date for applications is March 31. Farmers who applied for a derogation in 2020 are also reminded that they must submit fertiliser accounts for 2020 by the same date.