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Ministers O’Brien and McConalogue announce the introduction of new measures to implement the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2020

Published on Thursday, 19 Nov 2020
Minister Darragh O'Brien

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue today (19 November) announced the introduction of new measures under the Nitrates Regulations.

The new measures  introduce a requirement in relation to liming, the use of low emission slurry spreading (LESS) technology and reducing crude protein in concentrates on those farms at over 170kg organic N per Ha and who currently do not avail of the nitrates derogation.

Minister O’Brien outlined, “these regulations apply the same requirement to all farmers over 170Kg Organic N per Ha. This is an important step up in the contribution of these farmers to support water quality.”

Minister McConalogue added, “the measures provide farmers the opportunity to improve their environmental footprint while improving and protecting water quality.”

Both Ministers added, “Farms operating at these levels (over 170 kg organic N/Ha and nitrates derogation farms) implement many of the very best practices in nutrient management planning and this revision to the regulation will ensure a level playing field and it is important that all farmers (i.e. over 170kg/N/Ha), including those not in derogation, play their part in protecting water quality.’’

Following discussions between both Ministers, the suite of measures will to be introduced from 1st January 2021 however the introduction of the requirement to LESS for these farmers (over 170 kg organic N/Ha) will be introduced from 15th April 2021. The current requirement to use LESS technology on nitrates approved derogation farms remains in place where all slurry applied during 2021, must be applied by LESS methods.

Commenting on the amended timeframe for the introduction of LESS, Minister McConalogue said, “I am happy to announce that following constructive discussions between myself and Minister O’Brien, a balance has been struck allowing a revised timeframe to prepare these farmers for switching to LESS equipment. It is critical to stress that there will be no further amendments beyond 15th April 2021. Both myself and Minister O’Brien are committed to our environmental commitments under the Nitrates Action Programme and Derogation. We all must work collectively to ensure the measures contained within the Nitrates Action Programme and Derogation are adhered to while also ensuring that productive farmers are supported.”

Minister McConalogue also welcomed the fact that farmers are embracing LESS technology which has significant benefits in reducing ammonia emissions, improving the fertiliser value of slurry and increasing the window available for application of slurry.  He confirmed also that over 7,900 applications for support under the TAMS scheme have been received with over 2,700 farmers have been paid to-date. 

In addition, the Commission has requested Ireland to review some of the technical aspects of the Nitrates Action Programme, therefore the annual excretion rates for the dairy cow was reviewed based on most recent scientific research. This work indicated that based on increased emissions from dairy cows  “based on scientific data, the analysis concluded, the excretion rate of the dairy cow should be reflected closer to 89 kg organic nitrogen” with the current regulation having been revised to reflect this change for implementation from the 1st January 2021.

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