Higher stocked farmers will have one less bale per hectare of land in 2024 as a result of the 5% cut to maximum chemical nitrogen application rates.

In February, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced he was bringing forward proposals agreed by the Agriculture Water Quality Group, to cut maximum chemical nitrogen rates by 5%.

For farms stocked higher than 210kg N/ha of organic nitrogen, this equates to an 11kg N/ha cut in chemical nitrogen, on top of the 25kg N/ha cut which was introduced in 2023.

At a typical response of 25kg grass per 1kg of nitrogen, the 11kg cut would grow over 275kg of grass dry matter per hectare, equivalent to the amount of silage in one round bale.

Speaking on RTÉ radio after a meeting of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee on Monday, Minister McConalogue said that farmers should “plan ahead and do their fodder budgets”.

“We have a number of months ahead of us before we reach the winter period, and farmers should do their fodder budgets and address any gaps that they might have in terms of working to save additional fodder,” he said.

The reduction in chemical nitrogen rates has not yet been entered into legislation as the changes are yet to go through the appropriate assessment and public consultation processes.