Farm Ireland
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Monday 25 March 2019

Plans underway for new nutrient management tool for farmers to comply with EU rules

What the proposed new Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients could look like.
What the proposed new Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients could look like.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A new tool is being developed to help farmers manage the use of nutrients on their farm and comply with new rules under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) proposals for 2021-2027.

The European Commission has said proposed Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients (FaST) will facilitate a sustainable use of fertilisers for all farmers in the EU while boosting the digitisation of the agricultural sector.

The current CAP reform proposals include higher ambitions and stricter rules for farmers in relation to environmental and climate action.

However, in a recently released feasibility study on the tool, it was revealed that the new tool will not be used by authorities to ensure compliance of farmers and their input levels.

Used by farmers and free of charge, the FaST tool will automatically provide information on the parcels selected, including crops, the number of animals on the farm and the amount of manure generated by them.

The tool is to be used by farmers, and free of charge, the device will automatically provide information on the parcels selected, including crops, the number of animals on the farm and the amount of manure generated by them.

Additional data will also be available for nutrient management such as data on soil, the proximity of protected areas and legal limits on the use of nutrients.

Accessible via mobile phones, PCs or tablets as a digital tool, the user can accept or edit the data provided.

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From this, the tool will propose a nutrient management plan, which gives customised recommendations on crop fertilisation for the farm selected.

Its use will bring environmental benefits, such as reducing nutrient leakage in ground water and rivers, as well as positively contributing to soil quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The tool will also make sense from an agronomic perspective. It will help decrease the use of nutrients, when there is over-fertilisation or increase crop yield, when there is under-fertilisation. In both cases, this will lead to an increase in farmers´ revenues and efficiency.

The EU hopes the simplification of the farmers’ tasks will be another advantage of the FaST.

Data entry and input duplication, for example the manual introduction of the same data for different administration bodies, will be significantly reduced.

Moreover, due to its wide scale use, it is also planned that the tool will serve as a basis for additional digital services provided by the market or public administrations.

The Commission has said this will further facilitating the digitalisation of the management of the CAP.

Member States will establish a system to provide the FaST for nutrients to individual farmers, who in return will be obliged to activate the tool and input the information necessary for the tool to be operational.

The European Commission may contribute to the design of the FaST and provide support with data storage and processing service requirements.

The Commission says the functionalities and services of this common platform will be fully customised in each EU country to ensure that the tool is adapted to the local conditions, takes advantage of the existing knowledge and provides the desired economic and environmental benefits.

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