The Ulster Farmers’ Union is reminding farmers that the deadline for applying for nitrates derogation for 2015 is 1 March 2015.
If a derogation was obtained in 2014, these farmers will also need to submit their 2014 Fertilisation Accounts to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) by 1 March 2015.
The UFU is urging any farmer who feels that they may need a derogation to seriously consider their options now and if necessary submit an application to NIEA by the 1 March closing date. 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. Due to changes to the Single Farm Payment regime this year, many farmers have found that there are changes to the land parcels that they are farming. 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.
Under European Commission rules, any farmer wishing to avail of a derogation will have to apply annually to NIEA by 1 March and must comply with additional measures. To be eligible for a derogation, farms must operate below 250kgN/ha/year from grazing livestock manure; have at least 80% of agricultural land in grassland; shall not exceed a phosphorus balance of 10kgP/ha/year; soil sample at least every four hectares of land every four years and meet other land management conditions.
The UFU is also reminding those farmers who submitted derogation applications to NIEA in 2014, that they must also prepare and submit to NIEA a fertilisation account by 1 March for the previous calendar year and should ensure that a fertilisation plan is available on farm by 1st March which should include various pieces of information including the management of manures and chemical fertiliser.
Farmers should ensure that application forms and fertilisation accounts are completed in full and that the information is carefully checked. Those who choose to post the information to NIEA are advised to use recorded or special delivery. Farmers who wish to apply for a 2015 derogation should request an application form from the NIEA on 028 92623189 or from the NIEA website http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/water-home/agri_regs/derogation.htm. Farmers should note that the 1 March 2015 falls on a Sunday therefore should ensure any postal applications are received before this date.
For those opting to hand deliver applications, the security hut at the gates to NIEA, Antrim Road, Lisburn will be able to receive applications over the weekend of 28 February/1 March.