EU approval needed for future availability of Nitrates Derogation to farmers
The Irish Government will soon be seeking approval for the continued availability of the Nitrates Derogation to Irish farmers.
The Department of Housing Planning Community and Local Government will shortly commence negotiations with the European Commission on a new Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and an associated derogation.
This will be done in close conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has said it will be important to demonstrate that the current arrangements are sustainable in Ireland.
Creed said that agreeing a new NAP before the end of 2017, and maintaining the derogation (which is currently availed of by almost. 7,000 farmers), is an important aspect of sustaining balanced growth in the rural economy.
The Nitrates Derogation is available to grassland farms on an individual basis. The derogation applies only to grazing livestock on the holding.
Farmers who wish to avail of the derogation have to make an annual application and farm in accordance with a fertiliser plan and the conditions set out below.
The Derogation allows the application of a higher amount of livestock manure than that provided for in the Nitrates Regulations (where the limit is 170kg of N per hectare per year from livestock manure) subject to certain conditions.
Successful applicants will be able to apply livestock manure in excess of 170kg/ha in accordance with their fertiliser plan and up to a maximum of 250kg/ha per year.
Slurry spreading deadline
The Nitrates Directive also requires all Member States to define set periods when the land application of fertiliser is not allowed.
According to the Minister, data from the Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP) operated by Teagasc support the current closed periods in Ireland. A key message from the research is that the majority of nutrient loss from agriculture to water occurs during the closed period.
He says there are ‘no proposals’ at present for any variation to the terms of the NAP, but where there is a risk to animal welfare due to circumstances outside the farmer's control, such as flooding of tanks, farmers are invited to contact the Nitrates section of the Department.
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