N dero­ga­tion brings many new farm rules

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Stephen Cado­gan

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.

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