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What are the new chemical fertiliser application rules?

In this article, That’s Farming, looks at Ireland’s fifth Nitrates Action Programme, covering the management of soil water storage, livestock excretion rates and sludge.

Adding soiled water to slurry tanks has the potential to cause issues relating to storage capacity for farmers in Ireland.

Spreading of soiled water will not be permitted from the following dates:

  • From March 11th, 2022 – between December 21st and December 31st for all milk producers;
  • From January 1st, 2023 – between December 10th and December 31st, for all milk producers;

All holdings which produce soiled water must have a minimum of three weeks’ soiled water storage capacity in place by December 1st, 2023.

Livestock excretion rates

Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are currently reviewing the excretion rate of all livestock. You can see the most recent increase in the dairy cow, from 85kg/ha N to 89kg/ha N.

Band Nitrogen Phosphorus
1 < 4,500kg – 80kg N/ha < 4,500kg – 12kg P/ha
2 4,501 and 6,500kg – 92kg N/ha 4,501 and 6,500kg – 13.6kg P/ha
3 >6,500kg – 106kg N/ha >6,500kg – 15.8kg P/ha

Source: An Overview of Ireland’s Fifth Nitrates Action Programme, the Government of Ireland.

These new excretion rates have been introduced into Table 6 of the Good Agricultural Practice Regulations 2022, commencing on January 1st, 2023.

Control of chemical fertiliser

The national allowance of nitrogen will be reduced by 10% from March 11th, 2022, and a further 5% from January 1st, 2024, pending interim review.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will extend the closed period for applying chemical fertilisers by 14 days for Zones A, B and C.


The EPA is responsible for regulating industries that generate industrial sludges through IED licencing.

There is currently no data system that identifies the application of where sludges are applied. The National Technical Implementation Group will conduct a review of the management and movement of sludges being applied to land.

Build-up of P

Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have reviewed the annual maximum fertilisation rates of phosphorus on grassland.

This measure will remain and be available to farmers operating above 130kg N/ha through the P Build-Up facility.

Other articles on That’s Farming:

What are the new rules for slurry?

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