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New Regulations on Farm Roadways & Waters

New Regulations on Farm Roadways & Waters

Mark Treacy, Teagasc Dairy Advisor, Clonakilty advises on the New Regulations on Farm Roadways & Waters which have come into effect since 1st January 2021. The new measures aim to further reduce Irish farming’s environmental footprint, with particular regard to water, climate and air quality

New on-farm measures aimed at further reducing Irish farming’s environmental footprint, with particular regard to water, climate and air quality, were signed into law by the Government on the 20th of November 2020 under S.I. No. 529 of 2020.  This new Statutory Instrument has introduced many new on-farm requirements, with effect from 1st January 2021.  These on-farm requirements will vary from farm to farm depending on the farms stocking rate in the previous calendar year.

Dairy cow Organic N update

A technical amendment has also been made to increase the nitrogen excretion figure for the average dairy cow from 85kg to 89kgs of organic nitrogen which impacts on all dairy farmers, as well as beef farmers finishing dairy cull cows.

Farm Roadways measures

Measures relating to the prevention of direct runoff from farm roadways to ‘waters’ applies to all farms, regardless of enterprise or stocking rate.  For all farm roadways, there can be no sediment or nutrient run-off into ‘waters’.  This includes watercourses, rivers, drains, lakes, etc. (including features which may carry no water for part of the year).  This measure was discussed in detail in the November/December 2020 issue of Today’s Farm.

Farms with Grassland Stocking Rate ≥ 170 kg Organic N/Ha

Farms with a Grassland Stocking Rate (GSR) ≥170 kg Organic N per hectare are now required to exclude bovines from watercourses and locate all water troughs at least 20m from watercourses.  This means bovines cannot drink, or have access to freely enter or cross watercourses (clarified further below). Watercourses on your farm are defined as the solid blue lines on the OSI 1:5000 scale maps, viewable on this website OSI Place Map (select Customize, A3, 1:5,000 and landscape).  To comply with these requirements the following is required:

  • Where watercourses are currently unfenced, a fence must be erected at least 1.5m from the top of the bank.
  • Existing fences must be moved out to at least 1.5m from the top of the watercourse bank.
  • An exception to this is where an existing roadway runs parallel to a watercourse. The existing fence will suffice provided there is a fence on both sides of the roadway and the roadway is cambered away for the watercourse, along with an earthen bank between the roadway and watercourse.
  • Bovines are still permitted to cross through watercourses provided both sides of the watercourse are fenced 1.5m back from the top of the bank, bovines cannot freely drink from the watercourse, and fences are in place to prevent bovines freely crossing or going up/down stream.
  • All new and existing water troughs must be located at least 20m from watercourses.

While not a legal requirement at present, the provision of bridges over watercourses where regular crossing is necessary is still considered to be best practice.

Changes applying to 5,000 non-Derogation farmers

Approximately 5,000 farms in Ireland export slurry to comply with the 170 kg Organic N per hectare limit and stay outside of derogation.  In addition to the requirements already outlined for farms with  a GSR ≥ 170kg Organic N per hectare, these farms with a Whole Farm Stocking Rate (WFSR) ≥ 170 kg Organic N per hectare (excluding slurry exports) are now required to implement a number of additional new measures.  These additional requirements remove most of the potential benefits at farm level of avoiding derogation. 

These measures are:

  • A requirement to apply lime where soil analysis results show an agronomic need. A minimum of 25% of the total lime requirement needs to be applied each year.
  • Limit the Crude Protein of ration fed to grazing bovines greater than 2 years of age to ≤ 15% during the period of 1st April to 15th
  • Use Low Emission Slurry Spreading equipment for all slurry applied from 15th April 2021.

The new regulations came into effect on the 1st of January 2021. The flowchart and table below will help guide you through the requirements. Contact your Teagasc advisor for additional information.

flowchart environment regulations

This table below is from the DAFM FAQ’s – Source DAFM

Course Requirements

If you are one of the 2,500, farmers who recently completed the Environmental Module (Farming Sustainably and the Environment) as part of the mandatory derogation training courses with Teagasc, rest assured that the course you completed will satisfy the Derogation Course Requirements

For Additional information- see DAFM Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) and also Statutory Instrument 529 of 2020 

Further information can also be found on the Teagasc Environment Schemes & Regulations webpage