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Gildernew praises Nitrates Roadshow success

15 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Farms Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has praised the success of an information campaign amongst local farmers on the Nitrates Derogation.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has recently held a series of very successful Nitrates Derogation Information meetings which were attended by some 1500 farmers across the north. The meetings were designed to help farmers to decide if they should apply for a Nitrates Derogation and explain what a derogation entails.

Commending the high level of participation by local farmers in the roadshow seminars, the Minister said:

"It is a credit to our farmers that they have taken such a keen interest in the derogation and the Nitrates Directive. Over 1500 took time to attend these roadshows. The positive way that they have been engaging with my officials at the seminars is very encouraging.

"I also wish to take this opportunity to remind any farmers who want to apply for a derogation to submit their application to DOE Environment and Heritage Service by 1st March 2008.

"The Nitrates Derogation was an excellent example of DARD, DOE and the industry working together for a good deal for our farmers and the environment. These information events demonstrate DARD's on-going commitment to help farmers comply with the requirements of the Nitrates Action Programme."

The derogation will allow farmers to make the most of grass-based production, while also protecting water quality. Grassland farms that meet the conditions will be allowed to apply cattle manure up to a maximum of 250kg Nitrogen per hectare per year.

Nitrates Derogation applications should be submitted to DOE Environment and Heritage Service by 1st March 2008. Application packs can be obtained from the Environment and Heritage Service Tel. 028 9262 3189 or from Countryside Management Branch staff at your local DARD office or online from or


1. The Nitrates Action Programme Regulations (NI) 2006 came into operation on 1 January 2007 and established measures to control the application and storage of livestock manures and fertilisers, which apply to all farms across the North of Ireland. The objective is to improve water quality in rivers and lakes.

2. Under the terms of the Nitrates Directive, Member States which introduce a compliant action programme may apply for a derogation from the statutory 170kg Nitrogen per hectare per year livestock manure limit specified by the Directive.

3. The terms of the derogation are set by the European Commission and must be compatible with achieving the objectives of the Nitrates Directive and other environmental Directives.

4. Farms operating under a derogation are required to adopt additional nutrient management measures to ensure that operating at a higher livestock manure limit does not adversely impact on water quality.

5. The main criteria of the derogation here are:

  • an annual application by the farmer to DOE Environment and Heritage Service;
  • an application limit of 250kg per hectare per year of manure from grazing livestock (cattle, sheep, deer and goats);
  • 80% of the agricultural area of the farm to be grassland;
  • a farm phosphorus balance limit of 10kg Phosphorus per hectare per year;
  • the production and maintenance of fertilisation plans and accounts annually.

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