Fewer farmers had nitrates derogation applications rejected in 2021 than had been the case in 2020, despite the number of farmers seeking a derogation going up.

Department of Agriculture figures show that the number of derogations granted in 2021 came to 6,426, which was up 410 on the number of derogations granted the year previous.

The rate of rejection in derogation applications fell to 3.8% in 2021 from around 4.4% in 2020.

Some 3.7% of the farmers who applied for a derogation and did not withdraw their application within the year were rejected, which was down from 4.2% in 2020.

More than one in every 20 farmers who applied for a nitrates derogation received an on-farm inspection last year.

A total of 356 on the ground inspections were carried out, and 52 of these were rejected following the on-farm inspection.

The most recent year for which figures are available from the Department of Agriculture is 2021, as compliance checks are conducted in arrears.

Farmers applying for a derogation underwent Department administrative checks, with at least 5% of them receiving an on-farm inspection.

The Department said that failure to fence off water courses, insufficient slurry storage, out of date soil samples and not submitting all required documentation were the leading reasons farmers went down in 2021’s round of applications.

Penalties apply where a farmer is found to be breaching the terms of a derogation.

Should a farmer’s application be rejected following an administrative check and they exceed the 170kg N/ha stocking rate limit for non-derogation farms, penalties may be applied across all EU and national farm payment schemes.

Under Ireland’s new derogation rules at least 10% of applicants must be inspected until 2025, and a rejected application will see a farmer excluded from applying for a derogation until the following year too.

Watch back: Irish Farmers Journal nitrates meeting.

Hundreds of farmers attended information meetings hosted by the Irish Farmers Journal which featured speakers from the Department of Agriculture, the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) and the IFA.

Here’s a chance to catch up with what was heard and seen at the meetings.