The decision that the derogation would drop from 250kg N/ha to 220kg N/ha has been factual reality since July, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said speaking to media at the Agricultural Association Conference (ASA) on Thursday.
This comes following the announcement on Wednesday that farmers in derogation would have to drop to 220kg N/ha from 1 January 2024.
"It has been the factual reality since the end of July. In the absence of improved water data for 2022, by default, the derogation provides that we drop to 220kg N/ha come January.
“That’s been known since the derogation was published. Come the end of the July when the EPA published the water data for 2022 - that confirmed under the current derogation we dropped to 220kg N/ha,” he said.
In order to secure a derogation post-2025, Ireland will have to be seen to be making progress in relation to the objectives set out in the nitrates directive in order to get to good water quality.
“The challenge in relation to negotiating this derogation was that it was against a backdrop of 10 years where we hadn’t shown improvement in water quality – it was either static or it was disimproving in some instances.
“That was a very challenging context in which to negotiate a derogation and it made that derogation much more difficult to secure,” he said.
The Minister told the ASA conference that there are no silver bullets when it comes to water quality, climate and biodiversity.
“Change will need the appropriate policy reforms, incentives and investment, regulation, innovation, time and space. The importance of working collaboratively cannot be overstated."