Union issues reminder on nitrates

UFU annual meeting at Greenmount. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
UFU annual meeting at Greenmount. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Ulster Farmers’ Union President Ian Marshall is reminding farmers that the extended deadline for farmers to submit a nitrates derogation application is fast approaching with farmers having to submit their applications to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency by the 31st May 2015 for the 2015 year.

The application deadline was extended for one year only, from the 1st March 2015 to 31st May 2015, by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, to help farmers avoid Nitrates breaches.

Mr Marshall said: “A nitrates derogation allows a higher organic nitrogen loading of up to 250 kg N/ha/year on some farms. All other farms in Northern Ireland must comply with an organic nitrogen loading limit of 170 kg N/ha/year. However, due to complexities of the new basic payment scheme this year, many farmers have found that there are changes to the land parcels that they are farming and if land is no longer available to a farmer, they could find themselves over the 170kgN/ha/year limit for the first time this year and therefore may wish to consider applying for a derogation to ensure compliance with the Nitrates rules.

“The extension to the application deadline gives grazing livestock farmers and in particular dairy farmers more time to consider their options. For some it may become clearer, following the completion of their single application forms that their businesses have insufficient land to operate below the 170 kg N/ha limit. If this is the case there is still time to submit a nitrates derogation application form.”

Applications for the Nitrates Derogation for the calendar year 2015 must be received by NIEA on or before 31st May 2015. An application form can be downloaded at http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/derogation-form-2015.pdf or requested by telephoning 028 9262 3189. Farmers should note that the 31st May 2015 falls on a Sunday therefore should ensure any postal applications are received before this date.