Nitrates derogation: What are the new measures in place for 2020?

Applications are now being accepted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) for the 2020 nitrates derogation.

A number of measures have come into play since January 1, 2020. Therefore, it is important farmers familiarise themselves with these measures before considering submitting an application.

The new measures are listed (below), with a particular emphasis on meeting water quality standards.

These include:

  • Adopt a farm-scale liming programme;
  • Use low emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment for all slurry spread after April 15, 2020;
  • Reduce the crude protein in concentrate feed for grazing livestock, with a maximum of 16% crude protein permissible between April 1 and September 15, 2020;
  • Exclude commonage/rough grazing from the derogation allowance of 250kg N/ha;
  • Participate in an approved environmental training course by the end of 2021;
  • Participate in grassland management requirements from 2020, which include, grass measuring and annual grass production recording. Alternatively, if derogation farmers haven’t the required skills to undertake this measure, they must participate in grassland management training – which must be completed by the end of 2021;
  • Incorporate clover in any newly reseeded swards;
  • Adopt at least one measure from the All-Island Pollinator Plan (AIPP) in order to enhance biodiversity on farms.

Applications can be submitted through the department’s online portal:

The department highlighted that over 6,800 intensively stocked farmers availed of the derogation in 2019.

The nitrates derogation is now contingent on meeting water quality standards, and these additional measures in the requirements of the 2020 scheme are designed to provide added protection to water quality.

Applications for the derogation can only be submitted online. The purpose of this is, according to the department, to simplify the process and to allow farmers to avoid penalties.

Also, 2019 fertiliser accounts must be submitted online no later than April 8, 2020, for those who applied for a nitrates derogation in 2019.

The closing date for submitting applications is Wednesday, April 8.

The nitrates derogation

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

For a nitrates derogation application to be valid, a number of criteria must be adhered to.

These include:

  • Farming a holding that is at least 80% grass. Have grazing livestock – a derogation is only available in respect of grazing livestock;
  • An online application has to be made to the department in the format specified and no later than April 8, 2020. No postal applications will be accepted;
  • Livestock manure must not be imported – even in a processed form;
  • The terms and conditions should be adhered to before submitting your application – including all legislative requirements;
  • A derogation holding must have sufficient storage for all livestock manure and soiled water produced on the holding;
  • Applicants must participate in an approved environmental training course by 2021.

For more information on the terms and conditions of the nitrates derogation click here