Nitrates proposals will apply to dry drains
The strict new regulations governing the protection of streams, rivers and lakes will also apply to dry drains that only carry water seasonally and after heavy rains.
Under the recommended rules which will apply from 2021, farmers must prevent run-off from farm roadways into all watercourses.
In addition, on highly stocked farms - over 170kg N/ha - livestock must be fenced back 1.5m from streams and lakes, and water troughs cannot be located within 20m of watercourses.
While dry drains will not have to be fenced off, it is understood that the 20m setback rule for water troughs will apply to them.
Similarly, run-off from roadways will not be allowed into these seasonal watercourses. The proposed changes to the Nitrates Action Plan were included in the recommendations of an expert group which included officials from the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
The proposed changes have sparked concern in the farm organisations, with both the ICMSA and the IFA warning that they will put extra costs on farmers - and particularly dairy units.