New ni­trates dero­ga­tion re­quire­ments

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FRONT PAGE - Stephen Cado­gan

The new re­quire­ments for ni­trates dero­ga­tion farm­ers were spelled out this week as the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Food, and the Ma­rine an­nounced terms and con­di­tions for ap­pli­cants.

Mea­sures such as lim­ing, clover, and en­vi­ron­ment-friendly slurry spread­ing have be­come com­pul­sory.

More than 6,800 in­ten­sively stocked farm­ers availed of the dero­ga­tion in 2019, al­low­ing them to ex­ceed of live­stock ma­nure ni­tro­gen per hectare, up to 250kg per hectare, if they ad­here to strict rules.

The rules now in­clude, for the first time, all the rec­om­men­da­tions of an ex­pert re­view group on how to have a com­pet­i­tive agri­cul­ture while min­imis­ing neg­a­tive im­pacts on wa­ter.

There are also ad­di­tional re­quire­ments this year for farm­ers who com­ply with ni­trates reg­u­la­tions by manag­ing their live­stock to farm below the 170kg limit, by ex­port­ing enough slurry/farm­yard ma­nure, or rent­ing ad­di­tional land.

This year, 50% of all slurry pro­duced on a dero­ga­tion farm must be ap­plied by April 15, 2020. From that date, slurry can only be ap­plied on dero­ga­tion hold­ings us­ing low emis­sion equip­ment.

Com­mon­age and rough graz­ing will not be el­i­gi­ble for the dero­ga­tion al­lowance of 250kg N/ha. Chem­i­cal fer­tiliser on these lands must be less than 170kg.

An all-farm lim­ing pro­gramme must be adopted, and clover in­cor170kg po­rated where grass is be­ing sown, by dero­ga­tion farm­ers.

From 2020, they must par­tic­i­pate in grass mea­sur­ing and an­nual grass pro­duc­tion record­ing. If they haven’t these re­quired skills , they must com­plete grass­land man­age­ment train­ing be­fore 2022.

Dero­ga­tion farm­ers must re­duce pro­tein in con­cen­trate feed for graz­ing live­stock to 16% or less. They must par­tic­i­pate in an ap­proved en­vi­ron­men­tal train­ing course by the end of 2021.

A bio­di­ver­sity mea­sure from the na­tional pol­li­na­tor plan must be un­der­taken to en­hance bio­di­ver­sity (ei­ther leave at least one ma­ture whitethorn/black­thorn tree within each hedgerow; main­tain hedgerows on a min­i­mum three-year cy­cle (cut­ting an­nu­ally stops the hedgerow flow­er­ing and fruit­ing); or cut in ro­ta­tion so some hedges will al­ways flower). There are also de­tailed fer­tiliser plan­ning re­quire­ments.

The clos­ing date for ni­trates dero­ga­tion ap­pli­ca­tions is April 8.

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