Farmers availing of a nitrates derogation have until 31 March 2021 to submit an up to date fertiliser plan and annual fertiliser accounts for the preceding year.
A large percentage of the figure of more than 6,500 farmers operating under a nitrates derogation are dairy enterprises.
The majority of these enterprises will be facing into a hectic schedule from the end of January onwards and, as such, delaying collating fertiliser accounts or updating the fertiliser plan is likely to add pressure where it is not needed.
The next few weeks of downtime is the ideal time to bring records up to speed.
The 2021 terms and conditions of the scheme are not yet available, but it is unlikely the requirements for the fertiliser plan will change much, with the exception of including a liming programme.
The latest information, including a template for fertiliser accounts, can be found here.
The important components for 2020 are as follows:
It is also important to note soil analysis must be updated at least every four years, with one sample covering a maximum of 5ha of land.
To get an accurate reading, samples should not be taken where organic manures or chemical phosphorus or potassium fertiliser has been applied in the previous three-month period.
Samples should be taken in a W shape, taking care to avoid areas that are uncharacteristic of the field, such as supplementary feeding points, gate entry points, etc.