The new nitrates action programme, which came into law earlier this year, has new rules around phosphorus (P) allowances on farms.

Up to now, all farms in a nitrates derogation or stocked above 170kg nitrogen (N) per hectare (ha) had to carry out soil sampling, otherwise fields without a sample result were deemed to be at index four and therefore had no allowance for chemical P.

The new rules state that all farmers stocked greater than 130kg organic N/ha need to have soil sample results, otherwise they will be classed as being in index four.

Nutrient management plan

Farmers will have to carry out a nutrient management plan after receiving their soil sample results in order to know what their allowance is. Only soils in index one and two will be able to apply chemical P.

Even though the introduction of the new fertiliser register is set to be delayed by a few number of months, the indications are that fertiliser sales will be recorded by pen and paper from January onwards.

Speaking on this week's Irish Farmers Journal Farm Tech Talk, John O’Loughlin from Grassland Agro said that thousands of farmers will be affected by this change and that soil samplers and laboratories testing soil samples are extremely busy.

With the introduction of banding, dairy farmers who were previously under 130kg N/ha could find themselves north of that in 2023 and will have to carry out soil sampling in order to get a P allowance.