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Consideration of the storage arrangements for manure required under the Nitrates Directive

Briefing Note
October 20, 2008

1. Applications for Single Farm Payments are eligible for Cross Compliance Inspections to ensure that they meet Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) in European environmental, public, animal and plant health and animal welfare legislation and that they meet the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition Measures (GAEC).

2. The Department of Agriculture is one of four Cross-Compliance Competent Control Authorities. The other Competent Control Authorities are DARD Service Delivery Group, Environment and Heritage Service and the Health and Safety Executive.

3. The control of nutrients leaching into waterways is one of the main measures under the Nitrates Action Programme to ensure compliance under the Nitrates Directive.

4. Protection of Water Against Nitrate Pollution is SMR 5 1, which states;

SMR 5. Protection of Water Against Nitrate Pollution

5. All farmers claiming Single Farm Payments are required to meet Cross Compliance conditions. The Nitrates Directive, and measures implemented to achieve compliance with it, is part of these conditions.

6. Failure to have appropriate storage facilities for organic manure during the specified closed period would therefore be a breach of the Action Programme and, by extension, the Nitrates Directive if manure was consequently spread on the land during the closed period.

7. It is possible to surmise that failure to meet the requirements of SMR 5 could result in a penalty in respect of the Single Farm Payment. Presumably this would be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Department.


8. There are no evident derogations applicable to storage requirements under the Nitrates Directive. However, in October 2007 the DARD minister announced a derogation for the amount of nitrogen that could be applied per hectare per year.

9. This derogation is of particular importance to the dairy sector and increases the amount of cattle manure allowed to be spread up to a maximum of 250kg Nitrogen per hectare per year – from 170kg per hectare per year. Further details on the derogation can be read here.

10. Other countries that have successfully achieved a similar derogation are the Netherlands (250 kg N per hectare per year), Denmark (230kg N per hectare per year), Austria (230kg N per hectare per year) and the Republic of Ireland (250kg Nitrogen per hectare per year).