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Nitrates derogation 2020 – everything you need to know

Applications for the 2020 nitrates derogation can now be submitted to the Department using online portal.

The announcement was made today (Tuesday, February 11th) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who stated that 6,800 intensively stocked farmers availed of the derogation in 2019.


“The 2020 Nitrates Derogation Terms & Conditions include the full list of recommendations put forward by the Expert Review Group who proposed additional conditions for those farming in derogation that support the multiple objectives of a competitive agriculture sector, whilst minimising negative impacts on water quality.”

“This review was carried out jointly in 2019 by experts from the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, the Department of Housing Planning & Local Government, Teagasc and the EPA and proposed recommendations that were accepted by both Ministers.”

“The Nitrates Derogation is contingent on meeting water quality standards, and these additional measures, included now in the requirements of the 2020 scheme are designed to provide added protections to water quality.”

Terms and conditions

For a nitrates derogation application to be valid, all terms and conditions of the Derogation must be adhered to, including the following:

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  • An annual application must be made online to the Department. No postal applications will be accepted.
  • Farming a holding that is at least 80% grass.  Have grazing livestock – a derogation is only available in respect of grazing livestock.
  • 50% of all slurry produced on a derogation farm must be applied by the 15 April 2020. From this date, forward slurry can only be applied on derogation holdings using low emission equipment;
  • Commonage and rough grazing will not be eligible for the derogation allowance of 250 kg N/ha. Chemical fertiliser calculations on commonages/rough grazing will be limited to the ≤170 kg N/ha allowances;
  • Clover must be incorporated where grass is being sown;
  • Grass measurement and recording must be undertaken or training in grassland management attended;
  • Environmental training must be attended;
  • A liming programme must be adopted;
  • A biodiversity measure from the ALL Ireland pollinator plan must be undertaken;
  • Maximum rates have been established for the percentage of crude protein in dairy rations;
  • A derogation holding must have sufficient storage for all livestock manure and soiled water produced on the holding;
  • Have a fertilisation plan in place on the holding by 1 March. This plan should be submitted to the Department along with the application form unless the farmer has submitted a fertiliser plan to the Department in 2017, 2018 or 2019. Fertiliser plans must be based on soil analysis results dated after 15th September 2016.
  • New applicants, who do not have soil analysis results must assume Index 3 for 2020 but soil sample analysis, in respect of crop year 2020, must be available and the fertiliser plan amended accordingly and submitted online to the Department before 31 March 2021;
  • Nitrates Derogation applicants cannot import livestock manure onto their holding.


Applications must be submitted using the online system which, the statement added, is aimed at simplifying the application process and assisting farmers to avoid penalties.

Farmers can also remain compliant with the regulations by managing their livestock to farm below the limits, exporting enough slurry/farmyard manure or renting additional land but these farmers are also “subject to additional requirements this year”.

Nitrogen & Phosphorus Statements up to the end of December 2019 are available to view on the Department’s online system.

“These statements are useful to assist farmers plan and to decide if they would benefit from applying for a derogation.”

The closing date for receipt of applications is Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Farmers not already registered for can do so by logging onto and clicking the ‘Register’ button.

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