Irish farmers in large parts of the country will have to make do with 220 kilos of nitrogen from manure per hectare per year from 2024. The European Commission considers it unwise to stick to a derogation of 250 kg per hectare per year given the nitrate pollution in Irish surface water.
Last year, Ireland was given a last chance from Brussels, but recent measurements show that nitrate levels are still too high. By 2020, Brussels’ requirements for maintaining Ireland’s derogation had already been tightened considerably.
Recently, the Irish government announced plans to reduce nitrogen and greenhouse gas emissions by sharply reducing livestock numbers. One of the variants mooted is a reduction of 200,000 dairy cows which should also lead to less manure and nitrate leaching.
The European Commission has repeatedly raised concerns about the nitrate situation in Ireland in recent years. The Irish Farmers’ Association argues that the proposed restrictions are unrealistic and unnecessary. The farmers’ organisation believes the government should invest in better farming practices and technologies to tackle nitrate pollution.