Nitrates derogation applications for 2017 can now be submitted online

Nitrates Derogation applications for 2017 can now be submitted online, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has announced.

Farmers are advised to contact their agricultural advisor to determine if they should avail of this facility.

“The Nitrates Derogation provides farmers an opportunity to farm at higher stocking rates, subject to certain conditions designed to protect the environment and meet the requirements of the Nitrates Directive.”

The derogation is an important facility for more intensive farmers, with the Department of Agriculture stating that almost 7,000 intensively stocked farmers availed of the derogation in 2016.

The online system is aimed at simplifying the application process and assisting farmers to avoid penalties. Farmers can also remain compliant with the Regulations by managing their livestock numbers, exporting enough slurry/farmyard manure or renting additional land.

The closing date for applications is March 31, 2017.

End of year Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements (N&P statements) for 2016 are available on the Department’s online system.

Farmers who exceeded the limits in 2016 based on their cattle numbers will be advised in writing of this shortly but these figures will not have taken into consideration any documentation submitted to the Department by December 31, 2016.

Text messages issued to those farmers who were approaching the limits in 2016 and receipt of such a text should act as a reminder to those farmers to consider applying for a Nitrates Derogation this year, the Department said.

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.

The Nitrates 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 per hectare, subject to adherence to stricter rules.

For a Nitrates Derogation application to be valid, all terms and conditions of the Derogation must be adhered to, including the following:

  • An annual application must be made online to the Department. No postal applications will be accepted.
  • Farming a holding that is at least 80% grass. Have grazing livestock – derogation is only available in respect of grazing livestock.
  • Have a Fertilisation Plan in place on the holding by March 1. This plan should be submitted to the Department along with the application form unless the farmer has submitted a fertiliser plan to the Department in 2014, 2015 or 2016.
  • Fertiliser plans must be based on soil analysis results dated after September 15, 2013.
  • Applicants who have never previously applied for a derogation, or last applied in 2012 or earlier, and do not have soil analysis results must assume Index 3 for 2017 but soil sample analysis, in respect of crop year 2018, must be available and the fertiliser plan amended accordingly and submitted online to the Department before March 31, 2018.
  • Fertiliser accounts must be submitted to the Department no later than March 31 of the following year.
  • Farmers in derogation cannot import livestock manure.

Derogation documentation is available on the Department’s website.