Minister McConalogue Signals Changes to be Made Regarding Nitrates

Mar 6, 2024 | Climate Change, Farm Viability, Green Architecture

Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D. has announced a number of initiatives to improve water quality following a meeting of the Agriculture Water Quality Group. Adjustments are expected to be made to the way nitrogen excretion rates from calves and cows will be calculated. This is influenced by scientific work carried out by Teagasc.

According to DAFM, a request was made to Teagasc last October to undertake research regarding bovine nutrient excretion rates. This included consideration of the excretion rate of young bovines and the impact that reducing crude protein in concentrates fed to dairy cows has on the cow’s nutrient excretion rate. The findings were thereafter reviewed and validated by University College Dublin. This work confirmed that excretion rates for young calves is lower than previously estimated, and that dairy farmers can reduce their cows’ nutrient excretion rate by limiting the level of crude protein in concentrate feed.

Minister McConalogue announced:

On foot of that research, I intend to bring these adjustments into the review of the 5th Nitrates Action Plan, which will be subject to Appropriate Assessment. Once signed into law, these figures will be used in determining a farm’s compliance for the 2024 year. To allow farmers to plan for proposed changes, I will be writing to farmers shortly to signpost the proposals going into the Appropriate Assessment“.

The changes will be subject to the Appropriate Assessment process, before the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien T.D. whose department is responsible for this legislation can amend the Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Waters Regulations (SI No. 113 of 2022).

The Review of the Nitrates Action Plan will also propose a reduction in the maximum chemical allowance for grassland, and a reduction in the timeframe for reporting livestock manure movements between farms to allow for improved verification.

The continuation of accelerated capital allowances for investments in manure storage facilities and changes to TAMS for farmers that want to build additional slurry storage facilities was announced in Budget 2024 with the stated intention that these initiatives will have a positive impact on water across the country and place Ireland in the best position possible to secure another nitrates derogation after 2025.

Further information on TAMS can be found here.

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