The main chunk of the work in relation to the new national fertiliser database will be done by co-ops and merchants and they will have two options to submit farmers' records - an automated option and a manual option, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday 29 March.

The two options have been provided to allow businesses decide the best option for them in light of the number of fertiliser transactions they conduct, the Minister said.

The Minister acknowledged fears from farmers of the "additional administrative burden" that will be placed on them as a result of the new database. However, he said that it will only be a once-a-year task.

"I believe that the system, as it has been designed and developed, is as easy and simple as it is possible to do.

"Most, if not all farmers, will only need to register once on my Department’s online portal and then interact with the system once a year to declare any stocks on their farm," he said.

Data protection

Any farmer data collected under this bill will comply with all aspects of GDPR rules and other data protection requirements, the Minister explained.

"The robust data-sharing provisions in the legislation will allow the specific sharing of data with other bodies to achieve environmental and sustainability targets and will be fully in line with GDPR and other data protection legislation," he said.