Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced that 2023 Nitrates Derogation applications can now be submitted using the department’s online portal, www.agfood.ie.
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The Minister said: “The Nitrates Derogation provides farmers with an opportunity to farm at higher stocking rates without compromising our water quality. The Nitrates Derogation is subject to certain strict conditions designed to protect the environment and meet the requirements of the Nitrates Directive.
“All farmers have an important role to play in protecting our environment particularly those farming more intensively, and it is crucial that we protect and restore our waters as soon as possible to maintain the nitrates derogation at current levels into the future. Water quality is crucial to a healthy environment and farmers are keen to drive further improvements here.”
The Nitrates Derogation is contingent on meeting water quality standards, and these measures are designed to protect water quality and where appropriate to also provide biodiversity benefits.
The Minister added: “I encourage more intensively stocked farmers to engage as soon as possible with this application process and to discuss the need for a derogation with their agricultural advisor."
Dairy farmers who previously did not avail of the derogation are also strongly encouraged to consult with their agricultural advisor, due to the new excretion rate bands applicable for dairy cows from 1 January 2023.
The three bands applicable for dairy cows are: 80kg N/cow, 92 kg N/cow and 106 kg N/cow per year. Previously all dairy cows were considered equal in terms of nutrient excretion rate at 89kg N/cow per year.
To reflect differences in nutrient output as milk yield increases, from 2023 onwards, each dairy herd will be confirmed annually as being in one of the three bands based on the herd’s average milk yield/cow.
Applying for a Nitrates Derogation may assist these dairy farmers to comply with the limits set out in the Nitrates Regulations.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will shortly write to farmers individually regarding the banding options applicable to their herd and the requirements around banding. This will help farmers inform themselves to make important decisions in the year ahead.
The online system is aimed at simplifying the application process and assisting farmers to avoid penalties. Farmers can also remain compliant with the regulations by managing their livestock, exporting enough slurry/farmyard manure or renting additional land.
The closing date for applications is 31 March 2023. Farmers who applied for a derogation in 2022 are also reminded they must submit Fertiliser Accounts for 2022 by the closing date 31 March 2023. ■