Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
All farmers in Northern Ireland must follow rules aimed at improving the use of nutrients on farms and reducing water pollution from agricultural sources.
You must comply with these regulations to avoid prosecution and possible fines, but also in order to meet the requirements of the Cross - Compliance, Verifiable Standards rules of the Single Farm Payment Scheme, and other direct payments from the Department of Agriculture,Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
On 1 January 2015 changes to the Nitrates Action Programme were made for the period 2015-2018. The new Regulations replace the NAP and Phosphorus Regulations 2011-2014. The NAP Regulations and Phosphorus Regulations apply to all agriculture land in Northern Ireland.
Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) – Activity Calendar
DAERA has produced an “Activity Calendar” This summarises the activity and date you need to take action by to ensure compliance with NAP.
You must prepare records for each calendar year by 30 June of the following year, and keep them for five years. These records must detail:
If you are operating under an approved derogation, you must keep your fertilisation plan on farm and have it ready for inspection by 1 March for that calendar year. Your fertilisation account for the previous calendar year must be received by NIEA by 1 March.
All fertiliser types (including slurry, farmyard manure and nitrogen fertiliser, must be applied accurately and uniformly as possible and must not be applied in a location or manner, which would make it likely that it will directly or indirectly enter waterways.
Slurry can only be spread by inverted splashplate, bandspreaders, trailing hose, trailing shoe or soil injection. Dirty water can be spread by the same methods as slurry and by irrigation.
You must not use sludgigator type spreaders or upward facing splashplates.
Chemical fertiliser containing phosphorus must only be applied where soil analysis shows a crop requirement. Records must be kept to demonstrate this.
Do not apply chemical fertilisers, organic manure or dirty water when:
The new Nitrates Action Programme Guidance 2015-2018 Booklet includes additional advice on how to assess these risks.
Do not apply any type of chemical fertiliser within 2m of any waterway.
Do not apply organic manure or dirty water within:
You must follow legal limits when spreading nitrogen.
Do not apply more than:
For non-grassland crops, maximum nitrogen applied (from all types of fertiliser, including livestock manure) must not exceed crop requirement and, for certain arable crops, an N-Max limit applies to the total crop area.
Unless you have been granted a nitrates derogation, you must not apply more than 170kg of nitrogen per hectare per year (N/ha/year) of livestock manure, including manure deposited directly by livestock.
Do not apply more than:
Slurry can only be spread close to the ground by inverted splashplate, bandspreading, trailing shoe, trailing hose, soil injection or soil incorporation methods.
Dirty water can be spread by the same methods as slurry and by irrigation.
Sludgigators must not be used.
From 1 January 2017, organic manure with more than 0.25kg of total phosphorus per 1 kg of total nitrogen (e.g. some anaerobic digestates) can only be applied where soil analysis shows there is a crop requirement for phosphorus.
If you have a nitrates derogation you will be able to apply up to 250kg per hectare per year, as long as you apply by 1 March every year and:
Further guidance on the Nitrates Directive Derogation is available from NIEA
You must provide enough storage for the livestock manure and silage effluent that you accumulate during the spreading closed period. You must also ensure that your storage is adequate to cover periods of adverse weather and soil conditions outside of the closed spreading period. You should account for likely adverse weather when you decide how much storage you need.
Livestock manure and silage effluent storage must be maintained and managed to prevent seepage or run-off. Silage bales must be stored at least 10m from any waterway and stored and managed in such a way as to prevent seepage onto the waterway.
You must have enough storage capacity for:
You must ensure that any farmyard manure you store in a field is:
You must ensure that any poultry litter you store in a field is:
You must ensure that all new, substantially enlarged or reconstructed facilities for storing slurry comply with the relevant regulations.
After harvesting a crop other than grass, you must ensure that from harvest until 15 January in the following year one of the following conditions is met on that land at any time:
The stubble of the harvested crop remains in the land; or
(a) the land is sown with a crop which will take up nitrogen from the soil,or
(b) where soil or weather conditions prevent a subsequent crop from being sown, appropriate measures are put in place to limit soil erosion.
Where grass leys are grown in rotation with arable crops, you should sow the first crop as soon as possible after you have ploughed the grass.
Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). DAERA will screen all such applications and any that are likely to have significant environmental effects will be requested to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment before a decision on whether the project can go ahead is given. It is an offence to carry out any such work without prior permission from DAERA.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.
Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Read more on the DAERA website
The NetRegs team at SEPA, in partnership with The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and a number of industry bodies have produced 9 new GPPs to replace out of date PPGs. More are coming! Check the available topics
View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.
Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland