A number of amendments to the nitrates regulations were signed into law earlier this year under S.I. No. 529 of 2020. The amendments introduced previously flagged measures for intensively stocked farmers who export slurry to stay under the stocking rate limit of 170kg organic N/ha and avoid applying for a nitrates derogation.

It essentially introduces similar measures to approximately 5,000 farmers in this category and removes many of the potential benefits at farm level to avoiding derogation. The requirement is based on the 2020 whole farm stocking rate, so there is nothing that can be done now to influence it.

There are two measures that were applicable from 1 January 2021, which farmers need to be mindful of.

These measures are also applicable to approximately 7,000 farmers availing of a derogation and include implementing a liming programme and tailoring crude protein to an animal’s dietary requirement.

Liming programme

As already touched on, the requirements set out that “the liming programme must be implemented in 2021, where a current Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) and/or associated soil analysis results are available.”

Of particular importance is the requirement to apply a minimum of 25% of the lime required in 2021 as part of the four year programme developed. Lime applied prior to 2021 can be included in the requirements for a liming programme provided it was spread post-soil analysis. The balance of lime must be spread over the four-year programme commencing 2021.

Lands managed by way of one-year (conacre) agreements don’t have to be limed, however, if land is being managed for more than one year, it should be included in the liming programme.

On high molybdenum soils, the advised application rate can be reduced by 5t/ha, but this needs to be agreed with a FAS adviser. The specifications also advise that granulated lime can be used, but as it is fast acting, it is advised for maintenance situations where the pH is good.

Dietary crude protein

The dietary crude protein measure stated that the crude protein (CP) content allowance in concentrate feeds fed to grazing dairy cows and cattle aged over two years of age must comply with a maximum of 15% CP between 1 April and 15 September. This requirement will cease next week and come into play again for the grazing season in 2022.

Online recording

Meanwhile, farmers recording details of imports and exports of organic manures must now use the online submission forms via their own agfood account, or via their agricultural agent.

Furthermore, nitrates derogation farmers should note that they must declare all movements of organic manures by 31 October, with the general deadline remaining at 31 December 2021.