The Department has launched its new online system to record movements of organic manure between holdings, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.

The new system will replace the almost 16,000 paper forms submitted annually by farmers.

Benefits of the changeover include simplifying the system of reporting of movements and also giving farmers access to more prompt information on their compliance with the nitrates limits where they are exporting or importing manure.

Exciting development

Minister McConalogue said: “This is a new and exciting development, which will replace the thousands of paper forms submitted to the Department annually while offering farmers a simple approach to maintaining their records.

“This year also saw the launch of an improved online application system for Nitrates Derogation applications.”

Under the Nitrates Regulations, farmers are obliged to farm within the limit of 170kg N/ha or 250kg N/ha for those who hold an approved derogation.

One of the measures farmers can take to reduce nitrate levels is to export slurry to another holding.

Previously these movements had to be declared to the Department on a paper form by 31 December annually, or 31 October for derogation holders.

Online transition

The system is open now until 31 March for 2021 applications and farmers are encouraged to engage with their advisers to determine if they should apply for a Nitrates Derogation.

To use the online system farmers must be registered to use the Department’s online portal

The exporting farmer will log the movement on the portal and a text message will issue to the importing farmer alerting him to log on to the online system to accept the movement.

“The online system is aimed at simplifying the application process and assisting farmers to avoid penalties,” Minister McConalogue continued.

“Rather than remembering to post a form at year end, farmers can manage this through the year as the movements happen, allowing them to plan more effectively to remain within the nitrates limits, thus avoiding penalties.”

To facilitate the transition, the Department will accept both online declarations and paper forms until 1 July 2021, after which date use of the new online system will be mandatory.