New draft recommendations for dairy farmers stocked above 220kg of N/ha under the nitrates derogation could allow a typical dairy farmer with 100 cows on 40ha to retain up to six cows, that would otherwise have been culled.

The draft report from the Agriculture Water Quality Working Group has recommended that excretion rates for calves in the first three months of life will be reduced from 6kg to 1kg.

Furthermore, farmers will also have the option to reduce the crude protein in concentrates fed to cows during the summer months from 15% to as low as 12% in order to reduce their nitrogen excretion rates.

The draft report also recommends that land located more than 32km from the main farm holding should not be given a livestock manure allowance of greater than 170kg N/ha.