Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is considering a possible extension to the slurry spreading period, which is due to end on 30 September, in light of recent weather conditions.

The Minister advised that any such decision would be based on an assessment to determine whether the appropriate conditions under the nitrates regulations have been met and would be subject to strict terms and conditions and to agreement with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Any decision in this regard will be made promptly, the Department of Agriculture added.

N and P statements

The Department of Agriculture has also announced that cattle-only nitrogen and phosphorus statements (N and P statements) for the period 1 January to 31 August 2023 are now available on the Department’s online system www.agfood.ie.

Interim N and P statements are particularly useful to allow farmers plan for the remainder of the year to ensure compliance with the limits set in the nitrates regulations, thus avoiding penalties for breaching the limits of 170kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare or the limit of 250kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare for those who hold an approved nitrates derogation.

The maximum stocking rate permitted for commonage is 50kg livestock manure nitrogen per hectare.

Banding

The statements reflect land declared for Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) 2023 and, in the case of dairy farmers, the declaration made online through the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) to establish which nutrient excretion rate band is applicable to their herd, the Department said.

“Those dairy farmers who have not yet confirmed their band have been defaulted to the highest band of 106kg N/cow in accordance with the nitrates regulations.

"In line with the Department’s letter to these farmer’s earlier this year, they still have until 30 September to declare their band if they believe the highest band is inappropriate for their herd,” it added.

Limits

The Department has advised that there are a number of measures all farmers can take to avoid exceeding the nitrates limits of 170kg/ha (or 250kg/ha for derogation applicants) include:

  • Exporting slurry/farmyard manure and declaring the movement online.
  • Reducing livestock numbers.
  • Renting additional land.