Changes to Nutrients Action Programme

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The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has produced an information note for farmers explaining the changes to the Nutrients Action Programme (NAP) for Northern Ireland 2019-2022.

The NAP is designed to protect surface waters and from pollution by agricultural nutrients. The first NAP to apply across the whole of Northern Ireland was first introduced in 2007. It contains a range of measures and controls on livestock manures and chemical fertilisers. The NAP is reviewed every four years and implements the EU Nitrates Directive.

The new NAP carries forward all the measures from the previous Nitrates Action Programme and Phosphorus (Use in Agriculture) Regulations.

In addition, some changes and new measures have been introduced. The action programme has been renamed the Nutrients Action Programme, as the previous Nitrogen and Phosphorus Regulations are now combined into a single set of regulations.

The information note for farmers provides a summary of the changes and new measures. Most of these changes will be phased in from January 2020. However, some measures will require action and planning this year. For example, if you are intending to use chemical fertiliser containing phosphorus next year, you will need to ensure that you have valid soil analysis for your farm and prepare a fertilisation plan in advance

DAERA will be publishing an updated NAP Guidance Booklet to explain the changes and new measures in detail. There will also be an updated summary chart and both will be available on the website later in the year.

The NAP 2019-2022 Information for Farmers on the Changes to NAP and New Measures is available at:

Nitrates Derogation

Along with the NAP for 2019-2022, DAERA secured EU approval for renewal of the Northern Ireland Nitrates Derogation for the four year period 2019-2022. The derogation is important for grassland cattle farms as it enables them to operate at a higher manure nitrogen loading of up to N/ha/year, but subject to additional conditions and nutrient management measures.

The conditions of the derogation are set by the European Commission. All the conditions of the previous NI derogation are carried forward. There is a new condition where at least 50% of slurry produced on the holding shall be applied by 15 June of each year. Low emission slurry spreading equipment shall be used for any slurry applications after 15 June of each year

Also, if the conditions of the derogation are not met, the farmer is not eligible for a derogation the following year. There is also a change to the format of the fertilisation account.