Nitrates derogation applications for 2021 can now be submitted using the Department of Agriculture's online portal, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.

The nitrates derogation provides farmers an opportunity to farm at higher stocking rates, subject to certain conditions designed to protect the environment and meet the requirements of the nitrates directive.

The derogation is an important facility for more intensive farmers and the closing date for applications is 31 March 2021. Almost 6,500 intensively-stocked farmers availed of the derogation in 2020.

Minister McConalogue said: “I would encourage more intensively stocked farmers to engage early with this application process and discuss the need for a derogation with their agricultural advisor.”


The nitrates derogation is contingent on meeting water quality standards, and 2021 will see a full review of the nitrates regulations including the derogation facility.

The derogation allows farmers to exceed the limit of 170kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare set down under the nitrates regulations, rising to a maximum allowance of 250kg per hectare, subject to adherence to stricter rules.

Farmers can also remain compliant with the regulations by managing their livestock, exporting enough farmyard manure, or renting additional land.


The online system is aimed at simplifying the application process and assisting farmers in avoiding penalties.

Farmers who applied for a derogation last year are reminded they must submit fertiliser accounts for 2020 by 31 March 2021.

Further information, including terms and conditions are available on the Department website.

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