Nitrates derogation reminder on deadline

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) would like to remind farmers that the extended deadline for applying for a nitrates derogation is 31 March 2021.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 7:29 am
Dairy cows on William Irvine's farm. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Dairy cows on William Irvine's farm. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

A nitrates derogation allows a higher organic nitrogen loading of up to 250kg N/ha/year on some farms. All other farms in Northern Ireland must comply with an organic nitrogen loading limit of 170kg N/ha/year. The UFU would urge any farmer who feels that they may need a derogation to submit an application online to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) by the 31 March closing date. While the additional requirements may seem off-putting, the derogation option may well be the most suitable option for a farm business.

Dairy farmers should be aware that from 1 January 2020, the N excretion rate for dairy cows has been increased from 91kgN/cow/year to 100kgN/cow/year. This will result in dairy farmers requiring more land per cow place to meet the nitrogen loading limits (170kgN/ha/year). Therefore, the UFU would urge dairy farmers to review their N loading and if necessary, consider applying for the derogation if they can meet the conditions. 

Farmers who are already operating within an approved derogation for 2020 are required to submit a fertilisation account to NIEA by 31 March 2021 and an application form if they wish to continue at the higher stocking rate in 2021. Failure to submit a fertilisation account could result in penalties being applied to area payments.