Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced on Wednesday that a new online system has been launched to record the movement of organic fertilisers (slurry and farm yard manure) between holdings.

The Department says the new system will replace almost 16,000 paper forms submitted annually. This does not mean that 16,000 holdings are exporting organic fertilisers, with some holdings exporting slurry to a number of other farms and are required to record each separately.

A transitional period has also been announced to help farmers adjust to the change, whereby the Department will accept both online and paper records until 1 July 2021, after which date the online system will be mandatory.

The Department says the move to online recording will bring about a number of benefits.

One such benefit highlighted is the delivery of more prompt information with regards to nitrates limits for holdings exporting or importing organic fertilisers. Up to now, account was not taken of these movements in the farm’s organic nitrogen output until the end of year or in the subsequent year.

Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted to announce the launch of this new online service.

“The expansion of our online services is particularly welcome at this time, as we are all encouraged to conduct our business online where possible in order to comply with public health measures.”

Nitrates derogation reminder

The Minister was also keen to remind farmers of the impending deadline of 31 March 2021 for submission of applications under the nitrates derogation. “This year also saw the launch of an improved online application system for nitrates derogation applications.

“This system is open now for 2021 applications and farmers are encouraged to engage with their advisors to determine if they should apply for a nitrates derogation”.

Measures farmers can take to avoid exceeding the nitrates limit of 170kg/ha (or 250kg/ha for derogation holders) include renting additional lands, reducing livestock numbers and exporting slurry/farmyard manure.

There are records that the farmer needs to submit to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to have these activities taken in to account. These include the Record 3 Form for movement of organic fertilisers, as described above, the Record 4 Form for temporary movement of animals and the Record 5 Form for short-term rental grazing agreements.