N derogation brings many new farm rules
N o d i re c t ru n- of f o f s o i l ed water from fa rm roadways i n t o w a t e r c o u r s e s o r dry drains will be allowed from January 1, 2021.
This is one of the many new requirements in the nitrates regulations which came into effect on December 20, 2017, following agreement between I r e l a n d an d t h e Eu ro pe an Commission in December on a renewal of our nitrates derogation for 2018– 2021, on the basis of strengthened water protection measures in Ireland.
The new soiled water from f arm roadways stipulation will apply to all farms three y e a r s fr om n o w , a nd m ay require farmers to alter the slope on farm roadways. However, Teagasc advises f a r m e r s to im p le m e n t a ny r e l eva n t wo r k s a s s oo n as possible to ensure protection o f w a t e r s , e ve n i f c e r t a in measures do not become compulsory until January 1, 2021. Meanwhile, already in fo r c e fo r a l l f a r m e r s s i n c e January 1 is a stipulation that r un- of f from poaching will now be addressed under nitrates regulations, as well as under Good Agricultural and E n v i r o n m e n t a l Co nd i t io n (GAEC) regulations. Also since January 1, f armers who have to do nutrient management planning have to observe a new maximum soil sampling area per soil sample, reduced t o f i v e h e c t a re s , a n d s o i l analysis results are now valid for four years.
Soil organic matter analysis of designated peaty soils with an organic matter of over 20% must be carried out where soil s a m p l i n g i s u n d e r t a ke n , unless cer tif ied as mineral soils by a FAS adviser. There is a simplification of the calculation of nitrogen (N) a n d ph os ph or us ( P ) a l l ow - a n c e s in n u t r i e n t m an ag ement plans; and limits will be based on the previous year’s stocking rate, according to Teagasc.
For tillage farmers, growing winter cereals on soils with a P index of 1 or 2, an applic a t i o n o f 2 0k g / h a w i l l b e allowed up to October 31, if incorporated into the soil at or before the sowing time. There are minor changes to N and P allowances for potatoes and vegetable crops. However, the most demanding new measures are on farms with higher stocking rates.
A l r e a d y , fa rm e r o rg an isations warn of difficulties for derogation farmers having to apply 50% of all slur ry produced by June 15, 2018. After this date, slurry may o n l y b e a pp l i ed u s i n g l ow emissions equipment.
H o weve r , if a ll s lu rr y i s spread before June 15, there is n o n e ed fo r l o w e m i s s i o n s equipment.
Soiled water can be spread using a splash plate, but soiled water mixed with slur ry is defined as slurry. Farmers who apply for a d e r o g a t i o n in M ar ch 2 0 1 8 must have adequate storage for all animals on the farm during the winter of 2018/2019. F a r m e r s w i th g r a s s la n d s t o c k i n g ra t e s o ve r 1 7 0 k g of nitrogen ( N) per hectare have until January 1, 2021, to exclude bovines from watercourses.
The watercourses must be fenced 1.5m from the top of the bank.
D r in king poin ts mu st be l o c a t e d a t l e a st 2 0m f ro m watercourses.
On the po sit i ve si de, t h e ne w re g u l at i o n s al lo w f a r m e r s w i th a g ra ss la nd stocking rate above 130kg/ha a higher level of phosphorus ( P) for building up P levels (index 1 and 2) in soils. However, to avail of this increased P allowance, they must carry out soil sampling (including soil organic matter analysis).
They must also undertake nutrient management planning with a FAS adviser, to be submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
A n d th ey m u s t at te n d a training course on P build-up, in the first year. Nitrate regulations have also been reviewed and updated for farmers using pig slurry. The limit of 170 kg of org anic N per hectare still applies to all farms that im p o r t o rg an ic f e r t i li se rs such as pig manure. Where imported livestock manure is to be applied in any year to the land on the holdi n g , c a l c u l a t i o n s s h a ll b e based on the previous calendar year’s stocking rate. According to Teagasc, this is a welcome change, offering farmers that use pig manure greater certainty in their calculations.
It should also allow these farmers do their calculations earlier in the year. Sheep, horses, or other nonbovines on the holding must b e f a c t or e d in t o t he c a l cu - lation to determine the organic N on the farm. The calculation to determine the phosphorus (P) requirement for a farm has been simplified, by removing the calculation of the P contained in the slurry/manure ( p ro d u c e d ov e r th e w i n t e r period) of the grazing animals. T h e av a i l a b i l i t y o f P i n organic manures such as pig slurry is deemed to be 100% available at soil P Index of 3 or 4. If a soil is Index 1 or 2, the a va i l a b i l i t y o f t he P fro m organic fertilisers is deemed to be 50%.
The farmer can verify that the soil is Index 1 or 2, by soil sampling his farm.
If the farmer does not soil test the land, he/she can still assume Index 3 soil P levels, as in previous versions of the regulations.
Teagasc advisers note, “It w o u l d b e w ro n g f o r pig farmers to ever soil sample another farmer’s holding”, and regulations do not oblige pig farmers to produce nutrient management plans for other holdings.
In the new regulations, a soil sample must be taken per f ive hectares (maximum a r e a ) , e ve r y four years ( changed from a sample per eight hectares ( max) every five years).
There is a new allowance to e x c e e d P a l l o wa n c e s up to 2020, if the excess P arises from application of pig manure.
These and other additional stipulations attached to Ireland’s new nitrates derogation are the outcome of year-long negotiations with the EU Comm i s s i o n , an d t wo se pa ra t e public consultations.
T h e ne w m e a s u r e s ta ke account of the growing nu m b e r s o f d e r o g a t i o n farmers who are farming at i n t e n s i ve s t o ck i n g r at e s , and also environmental objectives for water, climate change and ammonia which Ireland must achieve. Furthermore, opportunities for larg e savings on fa rms t h r o u g h be tt er g r a s s l a n d management and improved timing and application of fertil i s e r ha ve be en t a ke n in to account. Agriculture is responsible for 98% of ammonia emissions, and Ireland must reduce its ammonia emissions by 5%, by 2030 compared to 2005. Ammonia losses from slur ry are significantly reduced by slurry application i n th e s p r i n g t i m e , an d by u s i n g lo w e m i s s i o n s l u r ry spreading equipment.
Derogation farmers must apply 50% of slurry by June 15, 2018, and use only low emission equipment after June 15. If all slurry is spread before June 15, there is no need for low emissions equipment.