Nitrates Derogation – Five questions you need to consider

Intensive grassland farmers should check their N Loading and if it is above the 170 kg N/ha/year limit apply for the Nitrates Derogation
Intensive grassland farmers should check their N Loading and if it is above the 170 kg N/ha/year limit apply for the Nitrates Derogation
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Do I need a Nitrates Derogation?

If you are an intensive grassland farmer with a Nitrogen (N) Loading above 170 kg nitrogen per hectare per year (kg N/ha/year), then the answer to that question is most definitely – Yes!

What does N Loading mean?

N loading is a key component of the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and is a measure of stocking rate which has an upper farm limit of 170kg nitrogen per hectare per year from livestock manure. It is based on the nitrogen from the average number of livestock you keep on the farm over the year and the land area that you actively farm and also takes manure imports and exports into account.

What is a Nitrates Derogation?

Intensive grassland farmers with a ‘stocking rate’ above the 170 kg N/ha/year limit can apply for the nitrates derogation to increase their N loading limit to 250 kg N/ha/year. This reduces the risk of a nitrates breach and also it allows their farm businesses to develop as planned.

The main requirements of the derogation are that farm businesses must:

r have at least 80% of their area as grassland;

r have a phosphorus balance of no more than 10 kg phosphorus per hectare per year;

r apply for the derogation to (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) NIEA each year by 1 March;

r submit a Fertilisation Account to NIEA each year by 1 March;

r prepare a Fertilisation Plan each year.

Therefore you will need to keep additional records and have a good administration system to ensure that important deadlines are not missed. When applying on-line, only information on the planned stocking rate for the year ahead, and not from previous years, is required.

Are there any other options available to me?

Yes there are other options. Exporting slurry, renting additional land and even decreasing livestock numbers are all ways to reduce N loading but they are expensive options and are only viable when the N Loading is just over the 170 kg N/ha/year limit. In addition Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) research has shown that farms with high slurry exports can develop soil potash deficiency. Therefore, high levels of slurry exports could lead to reduced soil fertility.

More importantly, the alternative options can be restrictive to future development of your farm business. Operating under an approved Nitrates derogation will allow your business to grow by allowing your herd size to increase, which is important when considering future viability and profitability.

What should I do now?

Check the position of your farm by:

r Calculating the N Loading for your farm and,

r Calculating the P Balance for your farm as derogated farms must have a P Balance under 10 kg P/ha/year.

r To calculate N Loading and P Balance use the CAFRE Nutrient Calculators which are available at www.daera-ni.gov.uk/onlineservices. Use this information to help decide if the derogation is an option for your farm.

If you are close to or over 170 kg N/ha/year apply for a derogation for 2018.

To apply

Apply for a derogation on line from 1st January 2018 at https://appsd.daera-ni.gov.uk/derogationapplication. 1st March 2018 is the deadline for applications.

For further information come along to one of the CAFRE Nitrates Derogation Information Events:

Dairy Centre Open Days (incorporating Nitrates Derogation Information) at Greenmount Campus, Antrim on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th January 2018

Dairy centre tours start at 10.30am each day and they will continue every 20 minutes through to 1.30pm. Nitrates Derogation will be covered at the slurry utilisation tour stop. There will also be an opportunity to view the online derogation application process and to have a one to one consultation with a CAFRE development adviser before or after the tour. These consultations will run from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

Please note the one to one consultations with CAFRE Advisers must be prebooked online.

To book your place, please go to: https://goo.gl/b1fjgD select a date and time that is suitable and then register and your ticket will be emailed to you.

Nitrates Derogation Information Events at the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown

Dates: Wednesday 31st January and Thursday 1st February 2018

There will be four sessions each day: 10.00 – 11.30am, 11.30am – 1.pm, 1.30 – 3.00pm and 3.00 – 4.30pm.

Each session will be approximately an hour, including presentations covering the requirements of a derogation and a demonstration of the online application process. There will also be an opportunity to have a one to one consultation with a CAFRE development adviser. These consultations will run from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

Please note the one to one consultations with CAFRE advisers must be prebooked online. To book your place, please go to https://goo.gl/6cSEUi select a date and time that is suitable and then register and your ticket will be emailed to you.

To help make the most of your time with the CAFRE development adviser please bring details of land area farmed, livestock numbers, volume of manures imported/exported and concentrates fed.