Tipperary County Council carry out farm inspections for the following reasons:
- Enforcement of GAP Regulations following notification of a sanction by the DAFM (cross-report)
- Drinking water source protection – farms close to a drinking water source will be inspected to ensure protection of that source from contamination
- Pollution investigations
- Complaint investigations
GAP Regulations (Nitrate Regulations)
The European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014 (also known as the GAP Regulations or the Nitrates Regulations) give effect to Ireland’s third Nitrates Action Programme, a requirement of the Nitrates Directive.
The Regulations set out a number of basic requirements designed to protect waters from pollution by agricultural activities. They include measures relating to storage of slurry, timing of landspreading, nutrient management etc. Compliance with the Regulations is linked to a farmers Single Farm Payment; where breaches of GAP Regulations are identified a farmer can be penalised all or a portion of the SFP, depending on the severity of the breach.
Farm inspections to determine compliance with the GAP Regulations are carried out by Department of Agriculture Inspectors for Local Authorities. While Local Authorities are responsible for the enforcement of these Regulations, a national agreement between the Department of Agricultural, Food and the Marine and the Department of Environment, Community, Heritage and Local Government, led to Department of Agricultural Inspectors being the nominated Agents to carry out inspections.
Where DAFM Inspectors identify a breach of the GAP Regulations, they apply the SFP penalty and refer (cross report) the breach to the Local Authority for follow-up.
Slurry Spreading Requirements
(extract from the Nitrates Explanatory Booklet on www.agriculture.gov.ie)
Precautions must be taken when you are applying fertilisers
In order to prevent waters from being polluted by nitrogen and phosphorus, the Regulations require that you must do the following:
- You must spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, effluents and soiled water as accurately and as evenly as you can.
- You must not use an upward-facing splash plate or sludge irrigator on a tanker or umbilical system for spreading organic fertiliser or soiled water.
- You must not spread organic fertilisers or soiled water from a road or passageway, even if the road or passageway is on your own holding.
- You must not spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure, soiled water or other organic fertilisers when:
- The land is waterlogged;
- The land is flooded, or it is likely to flood;
- The land is frozen, or covered with snow;
- Heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours (you must check the forecasts from Met Éireann).
- The ground slopes steeply and there is a risk of water pollution, when factors such as surface run-off pathways, the presence of land drains, the absence of hedgerows to mitigate surface flow, soil condition and ground cover are taken into account.
The following list shows the different buffer zones for different kinds of water bodies (lakes, rivers, wells etc.). You must not spread soiled water, effluents, farmyard manures or other organic fertilisers inside these buffer zones.
Buffer zones for spreading organic fertilisers
- Any water supply source providing 100m3 or more of water per day, or serving 500 or more people | 200 metres (or as little as 30 metres where a local authority allows) | Note 1
- Any water supply source providing 10m3 or more of water per day, or serving 50 or more people | 100 metres (or as little as 30 metres where a local authority allows) | Note 1
- Any other water supply for human consumption | 25 metres (or as little as 15 metres where a local authority allows) | Note 1
- Lake shoreline | 20 metres
- Exposed cavernous or karstified limestone features (such as swallow holes and collapse features) | 15 metres
- Any surface watercourse where the slope towards the watercourse exceeds 10% | 10 metres
- Any other surface waters | 5 metres | Note 2
Note 1: Contact Tipperary County Council for further details of buffer zones that apply around public water supplies.
Note 2: The 5 metre buffer zone is increased to 10 metres for a period of two weeks preceding and two weeks following the periods when application of fertilisers to land is prohibited as set out in Schedule 4 of the Regulations. The objective of increased setback distances at the shoulders of the closed period is to help retain as much of the applied nutrient in the field as possible thereby reducing its risk of loss through overland flow.