The nitrates review delivers derogation, supports
improved soil fertility, but places an increased
requirement on farmers, writes
environment executive, Irish Farmers' Association
In recent weeks, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine,
Michael Creed, and Minister for Housing, Planning and
Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, announced that the EU
Commission had formally granted the continuation of Ireland's
nitrates derogation. This is positive, given that two Member
States lost their derogation and others are currently struggling
through their negotiations.
The announcement by both ministers is the fi nal part of a
review of the nitrates regulations. It comes after 12 months
of intensive lobbying by the Irish Farmers' Association
(IFA), scientifi c research by agencies including Teagasc and
the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as technical
discussions in Brussels and Dublin involving senior offi cials
from both ministers' departments.
AN IMPORTANT DEROGATION
The derogation is important to support the sustainable
development of the sector, with farmers in every county in
Ireland availing of it. However, given the stringent additional
compliance obligations and the higher risk of inspections, it is
not surprising that only 5 per cent of farmers actually farm in
derogation each year.
New compliance obligations attached to the ministers'
announcement include a requirement that 50 per cent of all
slurry produced on a derogation farm must be applied by
June 15 each year. After this date, slurry may only be applied
using low-emission equipment. Derogation farmers must also
have suffi cient storage for livestock manure and soiled water
produced on their holdings.
Soils in Ireland are nutrient hungry. Teagasc has highlighted
that only 10 per cent of soils have good overall fertility levels.
To address this, the nitrates reviews will now allow farms with a
stocking rate of greater than 130kg nitrogen (N) per hectare and