The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has released a new calculator to aid farmers in complying with the 5% reduction in nitrogen output required under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM).

The calculator is hosted on the Department’s facility and is linked into an applicant’s animal identification and movement system (AIM), thereby allowing current levels of nitrogen output to feed automatically into the calculations.

The Department had previously come under pressure for failing to provide farmers with additional tools to comply with the scheme.

It should be noted that the new calculator relates to the original timelines and can be used in helping farmers to make up their minds about sticking with the original reduction year (1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021) or opting for recent flexibilities secured for a reduction year of 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021.

How to access

The BEAM calculator can be accessed by clicking on the heading “Exceptional Aid Measures” on the homepage. On the next screen, click on the tab in the top left corner “Schemes to enter” and on the following page, select the option “Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM)” which will be located in the centre of the screen.

This will then bring you through to the scheme homepage. Scroll down and on the left hand side, there is a white circle under the heading “Select”. Click on this and two options will pop up – “View Application” and “Nitrates Calculator”.

This in turn will open the nitrates calculator. The first information that will greet you is the reference nitrates figures for your application, including the reference value for your herd or the level of nitrogen produced in the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

This is followed by the maximum level of organic nitrogen a holding can produce in the original reduction year timeline of 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, and the minimum reduction figure required to comply with the scheme.

Organic nitrogen

The next section outlines the level of bovine organic nitrogen produced from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020 and the remaining allowance that can be used for the period 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021 and still remain within the limits.

These figures feed directly into the calculator and will be updated as the year progresses and more information comes on stream.

The calculator is completed by filling in the proposed livestock numbers for each month from January 2021 to June 2021, then clicking the button “Generate Nitrates Estimate”. This will then tell you the current position of your farm.

Remember, when inputting cattle figures, take account of animals changing in age and as such falling into different categories of nitrates output and to use the average figure for the number of animals that are likely to be present in a category in any particular month.

A useful tip for completing this task is to download a copy of your herd profile at the outset under the “Animal Identification and Movement” heading on the agfood homepage.