A decision is to be made next week by the Agriculture Water Quality Working Group on research presented by Teagasc on nitrates mitigation measures.

The research, presented to the group at a meeting this week, was on the lower nutrient excretion rates of young calves.

If implemented, this will directly release the pressure to move calves off-farm next spring.

Teagasc's findings on the impact of reducing crude protein content of concentrates fed to dairy cows and the nutrient content of slurry were also presented.

The measures presented by Teagasc would allow farmers some flexibility on the upcoming 220kg N/ha limit.

Research implementation

A statement released by the Department of Agriculture after the meeting said the group is considering the best ways to implement this research.

“The group agreed to consider the best ways to implement the findings of this Teagasc research, which has the potential to give farmers a degree of flexibility in how they can manage the transition to lower derogation limits without impacting negatively on water quality.

“Teagasc is to carry out some further assessment in relation to these measures, with the group meeting again next week to finalise their views.

“This next meeting will further consider Teagasc’s findings, the outputs from the Nitrates Expert Group, as well as its own suggested measures for the Interim Review of the Nitrates Action Programme,” the statement said.

The Agriculture Water Quality Working Group has been tasked with bringing forward proposals to improve water quality and strengthen Ireland’s ability to secure a nitrates derogation post-2025.

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