Nitrates inspections ongoing

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) are currently carrying out routine inspections for the environmental aspects of cross-compliance.

Approximately 300 Basic Payment Scheme claimants in Northern Ireland will receive inspections from the NIEA during 2016 and NIEA will normally give notice of an inspection.

Inspections over the last few years identified a range of non-compliance issues with the main reasons for breaches being, failure to provide sufficient nitrates records, inadequate storage facilities associated with middens and concerns around the management of channels and tanks.

Farmers and landlords should make themselves aware of the details and requirements of cross compliance but in particular the Nitrates Action Programme 2015-2018 and Phosphorus Regulations to ensure they are compliant and to protect their payments.

During inspections this year, NIEA can request farm records from any year from 2011 to 2015 to partly assess farm compliance with the Nitrates and Phosphorus Regulations. Farmers should make sure their nitrates and phosphorous records are complete so that they are prepared for a farm inspection if selected. Most of these records are already available on farm and keeping organised records will help avoid a breach of the regulations.

For comprehensive guidance on the Nitrates and Phosphorus Regulations the most recent booklet, ‘Nitrates Action Programme 2015-2018 and Phosphorus Regulations’ is available on the DAERA website or through any of the DAERA regional offices. A summary of this was issued to all farmers.

The following information shows, for a typical farm, the records required and the recommended sources of the information. If the information required can be obtained from another record source not listed below then this will generally be accepted.

Mandatory Record requirements for each year/ Recommended record sources

Agricultural area, size and location of fields and crops

SAF/IACS form or DAERA farm map showing areas of land controlled. Evidence of the right to graze common land if applicable. If crops are grown, the type of crop should be noted on the farm map or IACS form.

Land control

If not the land owner or SFP claimant a written controller agreement between both parties must be available for years 2011-2014. All land controlled must be recorded on the relevant IACS/SAF form.

From 2015 controller agreements are not necessary as all land controlled should be on IACS/SAF.

Livestock numbers, species, type and time on farm

DARD herd or flock register or other records of animal numbers, species, types and length of time on farm. Stock numbers should be taken at least on the 1st day of each alternate month for the calculation.

Farmers registered with APHIS on-line can obtain this information directly from APHIS or if a UFU member the Union can obtain this information on their behalf.

Amount, type and date of manure imported/exported; name and address of providers/recipients/transporters and signature of exporter

This includes livestock/poultry manures moving on or off-farm and should be recorded as per Guidance Booklet. UFU have a template form available for members.

Declaration of N content, waste transfer note and exemption, where appropriate.

For 2015 year, farmers who export slurry must submit an annual return showing exports to NIEA by 1 January 2017. For 2016 this must be submitted by 31 January 2017. A template is available.

Livestock manure - storage

Storage tank dimensions.

Rental agreement for additional storage, contractual agreement with processing facilities or evidence of access to an approved treatment or recovery outlet, where appropriate.

Livestock numbers, types and length of time housed, bedded or out-wintered (location of land used to out-winter) where appropriate. Details of slurry separation where appropriate.


An approved FNMS application (if the information is still applicable).

Chemical fertiliser

Tonnages with N and P2O5 contents of stocks held on 1 January and 31 December of the same year. Tonnages and N content of fertiliser bought and sold and imported and exported throughout the year e.g. dated invoices or receipts.

Amounts and type of fertiliser applied to crop groups noted.

Soil nitrogen supply index for non-grass crops

Compliance with N-max

Previous crop grown and soil type if fertilizing crops other than grass (see Guidance Booklets).

Chemical P applications

IACS/SAF form or DARD farm map showing fields where P was applied and corresponding accredited soil analysis results showing P requirement.

Crop type, fertiliser type, P content, P recommendations, P quantity and date applied should be noted.

Field by field record.

See Guidance Booklets for more details.

The above records are used to assess compliance with the various limits set out in the Nitrates and Phosphorus Regulations. Farmers should ensure that they are aware and can comply with the limits as failure to do so will lead to a breach of cross compliance which may result in a SFP penalty. Derogated farms will have additional record keeping requirements and deadlines to meet.

If you are a UFU member and receive notification of an inspection then you can ring Union Headquarters for telephone advice on how to prepare for an inspection.