New nitrates derogation requirements
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.