New nutrients action programme and derogation at the Winter Fair 2019

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The Nutrients Action Programme (NAP) 2019-2022 replaces the previous Nitrates Action Programme & Phosphorus Regulations, which have been in place since 2007. The new programme incorporates both nitrates and phosphates regulations within one action programme.

The aim of the NAP is to improve the use of nutrients on farms and, as a result, improve water quality throughout Northern Ireland. In particular it promotes better management of animal manures, chemical fertilisers and other nutrient containing materials spread onto land.

The main changes to the NAP are:

- Increased no spreading buffer zones for waterways and a reduced maximum slurry application limit in February and October.

- Chemical phosphorus (P) fertiliser regulations will be included in Cross Compliance requirements from 1 January 2020. A fertilisation plan will be required for all grassland farms using chemical P fertiliser, P rich manure and imported anaerobic digestate and a soil analysis will be required to show the crop need.

- Maximum P fertiliser application limits have been revised for extensively managed grassland.

- Farmers exporting anaerobic digestate will have to provide a nutrient content analysis. Farmers importing anaerobic digestate must ensure that they have a content analysis for it.

- There will be a phased introduction of the mandatory use of low emission slurry spreading equipment (LESSE) for anaerobic digestate, slurry spreading contractors and larger farms. LESSE includes trailing shoe, trailing hose, dribble bar, and soil injection.

- All new above ground slurry stores constructed after 1 Jan 2020 will have to be covered and sited at least 50m from any water way.

- Revisions have been made to the Nitrogen (N) excretion rates for some cattle and poultry systems. The dairy cow value has increased from 91 to 100 kg N per year from 1 January 2020, while some other cattle values have decreased. This change will mean that many more dairy farms may need to avail of a derogation.

Derogation allows more intensively stocked grassland cattle farms, with an N Loading at or over the 170 kg N per hectare per year limit, to operate up to 250 kg N per hectare per year subject to additional nutrient management conditions.

Visit the DAERA stand at the Winter Fair to find out more about these changes, to discuss how they will impact your farm business and to consider your options in relation to derogation. Make sure you are prepared and compliant with the new Nutrients Action Programme and Derogation rules.