From 2024 onwards, all farmers with a grassland stocking rate of above 130kg organic nitrogen per hectare must apply all slurry with low-emission slurry spreading equipment (LESS). The stocking rate calculation is based on the previous year, ie the stocking rate used for 2024 is the grassland stocking rate on the farm in 2023. The stocking rate is the whole farm’s stocking rate before the export of organic fertilisers, where applicable.

Accessing data

The level of organic nitrogen produced on the holding by bovines in 2023 can be accessed through your portal. Log on to agfood, select ‘nitrogen and phosphorus statements’ and this will display organic nitrogen production levels. It is important to note that nutrient excretion rates from other livestock are not included and must be calculated manually. The excretion rates of such livestock are detailed in Table 1.

New rules

The new rules were introduced following a review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme in 2021 and are enforced under the Nitrates Directive. It became compulsory for farmers with a grassland stocking rate of over 150kg organic nitrogen per hectare (N/ha) to apply slurry by means of LESS equipment in 2023, along with pig slurry and the application of slurry to arable land (or incorporation within 24 hours).

The rules were in place prior to 2023 for those farming above 170kg organic N/ha. It should also be noted that farmers operating under a Nitrates Derogation must also apply at least 50% of slurry by 1 June each year. Farmers must be able to demonstrate that slurry has been applied with LESS equipment either by having evidence of their own equipment or contractor receipts.