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Key data on Nitrates and Phosphorus now available online


The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine has announced that interim Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements for the period January to September 2018 and are now available online at

Farmers can use these statements to plan the remainder of the year, in order to comply with the limits of the Nitrates Regulations, therefore avoiding penalties for breaching the limits of 170kg of Nitrogen per hectare or the limit for those who hold an approved derogation is 250kg of Nitrogen per hectare.

The 4th review of the Nitrates Actions Plan (NAP) came into law on the January 1, 2018, designed to prevent pollution of surface waters and ground water from agricultural sources and to protect and improve water quality. 

Changes in the Nitrates Action Plan

Farmers are now required not to poach land which could result in run off. Farmers are also required to carry out a soil organic matter analysis of peaty soils located in designated high organic matter areas to verify that they contain less than 20pc OM, if the farmer wishes to apply phosphorus above maintenance levels.

The new regulations are targeting improved soil fertility. The main changes here are to soil sample where the maximum area per sample is reduced to 5ha. There is an option to farmers stocked above 130Kg org N/ha to avail of higher phosphorus build up rates. 

Thirdly, regulations have been made simpler. The calculation of your Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) allowance are now simpler due to the removal of the requirement to deduct N and P in grazing livestock manures in the storage period. The use of the previous year’s stocking rate when preparing Nutrient Management Plans will facilitate earlier and more effective fertiliser planning. There is also a limited extension of transitional provisions for pig manure.

Fourthly, new water protection measures will be applicable from the January 1, 2021. On farms stocked above 170Kg org N /Ha cattle will have to be excluded from watercourses and this will involve fencing at least 1.5m from the top of riverbanks and livestock drinking troughs will also have to be at 20m from watercourses. 

All farmers will also be required to prevent direct run off from farm roadways to watercourses or drains and this will involve altering the camber of the farm road. 

Lastly the main changes for farmers in derogation will involve ensuring that half of all slurry must be applied before June 15 each year, with the remainder spread using low emissions slurry equipment. 

Farmers applying in 2019 for a derogation must have adequate storage for all animals on the holding during the winter of 2018/2019, according to the new compliance regulations.

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