The European Commission is considering loosening the rules under the nitrates directive around spreading fertiliser made from processed manure.

This could mean that dairy farmers who are in derogation would be able to spread digestate from anaerobic digestion (AD) plants on their farms.

A draft act amending annex III of the nitrates directive is open for feedback for four weeks and is available here.

The following point would be added: “Member states may authorise, above the amount of 170kg [nitrogen]/ha per year as set out in this subparagraph and up to a separate additional limit of 100kg N/ha per year, the use of certain fertilising materials from livestock manure that have undergone processing.”


Under the proposed amendment, criteria would have to be met. These include detailed parameters around the makeup of the fertiliser.

In addition, the fertiliser would have to be of a consistent quality across all batches.

The draft act also states that: “Member states tighten the limitations on land application of fertilisers. . . take into account the increased risks of N loss in water and air resulting from the use of fertilising materials.”

The draft document said member states would have to ensure that livestock numbers and manure production do not increase as a result of the changes.

Measures would have to be taken to prevent the extent of possible emissions and natura areas must not be adversely affected or drinking water abstraction points.