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Nitrates cuts pose ‘major challenges’

THE fifth Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) changes will continue to present ‘significant challenges’ to dairy farmers, according to the latest Teagasc research and studies.

Dairy farmers are now having to carefully consider their soiled water storage management, livestock excretion rates and their use of chemical fertiliser in the new NAP restrictions.

According to the latest edition of the Teagasc TResearch* magazine, the purpose of the changes is to address the trends in ‘declining water quality’ across the country.

In relation to soiled water storage management, almost one third of dairy farmers surveyed by Teagasc said that they had sufficient storage to comply with the new rules.

Of the farmers who said that they needed to carry out additional measures to comply with the soiled water requirement, 19% said that they would store it in existing slurry tanks while 12% said that they would consider investing in additional storage.

The least favoured option among the dairy farmers surveyed would be to change their farming system or to reduce cow numbers.

In terms of livestock excretion rates, the Teagasc report observes that farmers with the highest yielding cows will experience the greatest level of change, moving from 89kg/N/ha to 106kg/N/ha.

As regards options for reducing the livestock excretion rates, 15% of dairy farmers favoured increasing their land area [e.g. leasing land] while just 11% of farmers said that they would consider reducing their cow numbers.

Pictured: Nitrates: Calculations must be closely watched.     

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