Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, today announced that 2023 Nitrates Derogation applications can now be submitted using the Department’s on-line portal, www.agfood.ie
The Minister said: “The Nitrates Derogation provides farmers with an opportunity to farm at higher stocking rates without compromising our water quality. The Nitrates Derogation is subject to certain strict conditions designed to protect the environment and meet the requirements of the Nitrates Directive.”
“All farmers have an important role to play in protecting our environment particularly those farming more intensively, and it is crucial that we protect and restore our waters as soon as possible to maintain the nitrates derogation at current levels into the future. Water quality is crucial to a healthy environment and farmers are keen to drive further improvements here.”
The Nitrates Derogation is contingent on meeting water quality standards, and these measures are designed to protect water quality and where appropriate to also provide biodiversity benefits.
“I encourage more intensively stocked farmers to engage as soon as possible with this application process and to discuss the need for a derogation with their agricultural advisor,” the Minister added.
Dairy farmers who previously did not avail of the derogation are also strongly encouraged to consult with their agricultural advisor, due to the new excretion rate bands applicable for dairy cows from 01 January 2023.
The three bands applicable for dairy cows are: 80kg N/cow, 92 kg N/cow and 106 kg N/cow per year. Previously all dairy cows were considered equal in terms of nutrient excretion rate at 89kg N/cow per year.
To reflect differences in nutrient output as milk yield increases, from 2023 onwards, each dairy herd will be confirmed annually as being in one of the three bands based on the herd’s average milk yield/cow. Applying for a Nitrates Derogation may assist these dairy farmers to comply with the limits set out in the Nitrates Regulations.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will shortly write to farmers individually regarding the banding options applicable to their herd and the requirements around banding. This will help farmers inform themselves to make important decisions in the year ahead.
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, exporting enough slurry/farmyard manure or renting additional land.
The closing date for applications is 31 March 2023. Farmers who applied for a derogation in 2022 are also reminded they must submit Fertiliser Accounts for 2022 by the closing date 31 March 2023.
Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements (N&P Statements) for January to November 2022 (cattle only) are also now available to view on the Department’s online system, www.agfood.ie. The end of year N&P Statement will be published as soon as all data is available. Some documentation submitted to the Department after 31 December 2022 is not yet included; this will be processed in due course.
Farmers not already registered for agfood.ie can do so by logging onto www.agfood.ie and clicking the 'Register' button. More information is available on the Department’s website at the following link here.
Further information, including Terms & Conditions are available on the Department’s website here.
Notes for Editors
The Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage are the lead Government Department in relation to the Nitrates Regulations. (S.I. No. 113 of 2022 as amended).
The Nitrates Derogation allows farmers to exceed the limit of 170 kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare set down in the Nitrates Regulations, up to a maximum of 250 kg 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 and have grazing livestock – a derogation is only available in respect of grazing livestock.
- All slurry applied on derogation holdings must be applied using low emission equipment. All slurry produced on a derogation holding must be applied by 1st October 2023.
- Commonage will not be eligible for the derogation allowance of 250 kg N/ha. The maximum allowed organic N on commonage is 50 kg N/ha with no chemical fertiliser allowed.
- Clover must be incorporated where grass is being sown.
- Grass measurement and recording must be undertaken. New applicants have the option of completing training in grassland management.
- Environmental training must be completed.
- A soil liming programme must be adopted where necessary to correct soil pH.
- A biodiversity measure from the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan must be undertaken.
- Maximum rates for the percentage crude protein in concentrate feed for grazing livestock must be adhered to between 15 April and 30 September.
- A derogation holding must have sufficient storage for all livestock manure, soiled water and silage effluent produced on the holding.
- A Nutrient Management Plan must be in place on the holding. 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 2020, 2021 or 2022 and there have been no changes on the holding.
- Nutrient Management Plans must be based on soil analysis results dated after 15th September 2019.
- New applicants who do not have soil analysis results must assume Phosphorus Index 4 until a soil sample analysis showing a different Phosphorous Soil Index becomes available. Soil sample analysis, in respect of crop year 2023, must be available and the fertiliser plan amended accordingly and submitted online to the Department before 31 March 2024
- Fertiliser accounts must be submitted to the Department in the case of 2022 applicants, by 31 March 2023.
- Nitrates Derogation applicants cannotimport livestock manure onto their holding
- Derogation information including Terms & Conditions is available on the Department’s website at; gov.ie - Rural Environment & Sustainability - Nitrates (www.gov.ie)
N & P Statements
These statements are particularly useful to allow farmers to plan for the coming year and to ensure compliance with the limits of the Nitrates Regulations, thus avoiding penalties for breaching the limits of 170kg of livestock manure Nitrogen per hectare, or for those who hold an approved derogation, the limit of 250kg of Nitrogen per hectare.
In addition to dairy farmers, those farmers who exceeded the limits or came close to the limits in 2022 should engage with their advisor and consider applying for a derogation in 2023, which allows application of livestock manure on a holding (including that deposited by the animals themselves) up to 250kg N/ha/year.