Nitrogen excretion figure for dairy cow rises in Teagasc review

The most accurate nitrogen excretion figure for the average dairy cow has been found to be 4kg more per year than previously measured, from 85kg to 89kg per year, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

This follows a review of Ireland’s nitrates derogation which was undertaken in 2019, the minister said.

Minister McConalogue was responding to a parliamentary question on nitrates changes from Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin.

In his reply, the minister said:

It is accepted that compliance of a higher standard is required from more intensive derogation farmers to ensure a greater level of environment efficiency is achieved.

Noting that the European Commission requested Ireland to review the annual excretion rates for livestock “based on the most recent scientific research”, the minister said:

“Ireland’s current Nitrates Action Programme concludes in 2021 and the process of reviewing the Nitrates regulations and derogation will commence soon and will be subject to consultation with all stakeholders.

“The excretion rates for livestock were last evaluated in 2003. In 2019, Teagasc reviewed the excretion rate for the dairy cow following the recommendations of the review group.

The outcome of the review was that the most accurate excretion figure for the average Irish dairy cow is 89kg of nitrogen.

“All farmers are required to comply with stocking rate limits, 170kg N/ha, or in the case of derogation farmers 250kg N/ha.

“Farmers can comply with limits by reducing stock numbers, exporting slurry or renting extra land,” the minister concluded.