Information for farmers on the changes to Nutrients Action Programme and new measures

Date published: 31 May 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has produced an information note for farmers explaining the changes to the Nutrients Action Programme (NAP) for Northern Ireland 2019-2022.

The NAP is designed to protect surface waters and groundwaters from pollution by agricultural nutrients. The first NAP to apply across the whole of Northern Ireland was first introduced in 2007. It contains a range of measures and controls on livestock manures and chemical fertilisers. The NAP is reviewed every four years and implements the EU Nitrates Directive.

The new NAP carries forward all the measures from the previous Nitrates Action Programme and Phosphorus (Use in Agriculture) Regulations.

In addition, some changes and new measures have been introduced. The action programme has been renamed the Nutrients Action Programme, as the previous Nitrogen and Phosphorus Regulations are now combined into a single set of regulations. 

The information note for farmers provides a summary of the changes and new measures. Most of these changes will be phased in from January 2020. However, some measures will require action and planning this year. For example, if you are intending to use chemical fertiliser containing phosphorus next year, you will need to ensure that you have valid soil analysis for your farm and prepare a fertilisation plan in advance.

DAERA will be publishing an updated NAP Guidance Booklet to explain the changes and new measures in detail. There will also be an updated summary chart and both will be available on the DAERA website later in the year.

Download the NAP 2019-2022 - Information for Farmers on the Changes to NAP and New Measures.

Nitrates Derogation

Along with the NAP for 2019-2022, DAERA secured EU approval for renewal of the Northern Ireland Nitrates Derogation for the four year period 2019-2022. The derogation is important for grassland cattle farms as it enables them to operate at a higher manure nitrogen loading of up to 250kg N/ha/year, but subject to additional conditions and nutrient management measures.

The conditions of the derogation are set by the European Commission. All the conditions of the previous NI derogation are carried forward. There is a new condition where at least 50% of slurry produced on the holding shall be applied by 15 June of each year.  Low emission slurry spreading equipment shall be used for any slurry applications after 15 June of each year

Also, if the conditions of the derogation are not met, the farmer is not eligible for a derogation the following year. There is also a change to the format of the fertilisation account.

DAERA will shortly be writing to all those farmers who applied for a derogation in 2019 to confirm whether their application was successful.   

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Nutrients Acton Programme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019 came into operation on 11 April 2019 and implement the requirements of the Nitrates Directive. 
  2. The Northern Ireland Derogation application for 2019-2022 was approved by the European Commission on 27 March 2019.
  3. The derogation allows certain, more intensively stocked cattle farms to operate at the higher nitrogen application rate of up to 250kg nitrogen per hectare per year.
  4. Low emission spreading equipment includes, bandspreading, dribble bar, trailing hose, trailing shoe soil incorporation or soil injection methods.
  5. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  6. All media enquiries to DAERA Press Office or tel: 028 9052 4619.

Share this page

Back to top