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News > Derogation Extension 2020 – Check your Nitrogen Loading


Derogation Extension 2020 – Check your Nitrogen Loading

April 24, 2020

The deadline for applications for the Nutrients Action Programme (NAP) Derogation for 2020 and submission of fertilisation accounts for 2019 has been extended until 30 April 2020. Although many farmers will already have made an informed decision with regard to derogation. The ongoing restrictions due to COVID 19 may require a rethink. As a result of the temporary closure of marts and the suspension of TB testing, many farmers may have to retain livestock on farm which they had previously intended to sell. This could have an effect on their Nitrogen (N) Loading by increasing the average number of livestock on farm, over and above what they had originally estimated for 2020.

A NAP Derogation allows farms to operate at a higher N Loading. N Loading is a measure of stocking rate which has an upper limit of 170 kg nitrogen per hectare per year (kg N/ha/year). It is based on the nitrogen from the average number of livestock you kept on the farm over the year and the land area that is actively farmed and also takes manure imports and exports into account.

Crops in a field drill

Farms that have a stocking rate above the 170 kg N/ha/year limit can adopt different ways of lowering it through a combination of: renting additional land, reducing livestock numbers where possible and exporting slurry. Alternatively intensive grassland farmers can apply for a derogation to increase their N loading limit to 250 kg N/ha/year. This reduces the risk of a breach of cross compliance and allows the farm business to operate at the higher limits.

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

  • have at least 80% of their area as grassland;
  • have a Phosphorus (P) balance of no more than 10 kg phosphorus per hectare per year (kg P/ha/year), P balance is the difference between the amount of P entering and leaving the farm;
  • apply for the derogation to Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) by 30 April 2020;
  • submit a Fertilisation Account to NIEA by 1 March 2021;
  • prepare a Fertilisation Plan each year;

Farmers who have applied for derogation in previous years report that the additional requirements of operating under derogation have caused minimal disruption to their businesses. Operating within a derogation can offer flexibility to accommodate additional livestock without fear of breaching the N Loading limits.

The extension to the deadline for derogation applications will allow farmers additional time to consult with their adviser or agent. N Loading and P Balance can be calculated using the CAFRE Nutrient Calculators which are available at DAERA online services. Where appropriate apply for a derogation at by 30 April 2020.