Local Feed Advisers trained to tackle emissions from farm.

Members of the Feed Adviser Register (FAR) play an integral role advising farmers on optimum livestock nutrition to maximise returns and reduce nutrient losses.   Actively engaging with local farmers throughout the Province on a daily basis, and often providing valuable advice on a wide range of topics, spanning animal nutrition, health and welfare and efficiency improvements, it is estimated that the 134 registered advisers could be advising around 10,000 farmers or 40% of all farm businesses in Northern Ireland.

Feed advisers and CAFRE staff on an environmental training session on the Greenmount College Farm.
Feed advisers and CAFRE staff on an environmental training session on the Greenmount College Farm.

FAR was set up in 2013 as a UK wide voluntary industry initiative to help reduce emissions from livestock farming.  It provides assurance that those delivering advice have undertaken the necessary training and continued professional development, as verification of technical competence.

A major focus of FAR is on reducing nutrient losses.  Using inputs like feed and fertiliser more efficiently can help to reduce ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions to the air, while decreasing the risk of phosphorus and nitrogen entering water courses and maximising returns at the same time. 

Feed advisers are trained to produce precisely balanced rations for livestock and can advise on a range of measures to minimise the emissions from intensive farming.
Feed advisers are trained to produce precisely balanced rations for livestock and can advise on a range of measures to minimise the emissions from intensive farming.


The Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association (NIGTA) have developed specific environmental training for Northern Ireland feed advisers in response to the challenges farmers are facing locally. 

This is being delivered by CAFRE at Greenmount College and at the end of the one day training event, advisers must successfully complete a validation test to be awarded a certificate of competence.  

The initiative has been widely consulted on and warmly welcomed by government, agricultural and environmental stakeholders.  

The intention is that all registered feed advisers in Northern Ireland will complete the training and be able to demonstrate competence in delivering advice on farm to reduce nutrient losses and ultimately maximise returns.  The 4 training days already completed have been ruminant focused with 47 feed advisers gaining their accreditation to date. Special courses for pig and poultry advisers  will follow in the coming months.  

Further training sessions will be scheduled for this Spring and advisers wishing to attend should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 07818 888877.

The Northern Ireland Environmental Agency recently requested a meeting with NIGTA to discuss 

the changes to eligibility of feed businesses to be licensed under the Industrial Emissions Directive.

Letters have been sent to many businesses who they feel may be eligible.

The key criterion is the production capacity of the plant over a 24 hour period. 

Mills with capacity of 300 tonnes or more per day are required to apply for an IED licence.

We have convinced the authorities that blending operations should be excluded from this requirement although by the strict interpretation of the regulation anything passing through a grinder should be included. 

Any business with the capacity to produce more than 12.5 tonnes/hour of compound, cubed material must have the appropriate licence.

These licences must be in place by July 2015 and it takes approximately 7 months from application to the issue of a licence. The application itself is a substantial piece of work and generally takes a specialist consultant to prepare. The fee for application is £4,500 per component and a feed manufacturing business will typically have 2 components - £9,000 in total.

Annual renewal will cost £1,700 per component or around £3,400/annum. 

NIEA are concerned at the lack of response to their letter and have stressed that businesses which are 

eligible for licence will run the risk of prosecution if they do not apply. 

It is important that any business receiving the letter should reply indicating their intention to apply

for a licence or to explain why their business is not eligible. NIEA require this response in writing so that they have a record to show that each business has been contacted.

A number of members have phoned NIEA to explain their position but unfortunately these calls were not logged and no record was kept. A short letter confirming details of production capacity will allow NIEA to complete their records without any necessity for visits or inspections.

A business will be exempt from the requirement to apply for a licence if – 

It does not produce any compound, pelleted feed.

The capacity to produce pelleted feed is less than 12.5 tonnes/hour.

Production hours are limited under the current Local Authority permit and maximum 

daily production capacity is less than 300 tonnes.

Practical Limitations such as cooling capacity or essential downtime for maintenance are limiting production.

Should expansion of your business in the future take production capacity over the 300t/day NIEA will expect to be informed.


Our association has been an active contributor to the work of the Greenhouse Gas Action Group.

This project has produced a plan for sustainable farm production based on efficient use of inputs providing a model for responsible growth and more profitable farming.

The scope of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is to be extended to smaller feed milling businesses and NIGTA has been working with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to help guide this process and minimise the impact on businesses. 

DARD and NIEA are working with the EU Commission on the renewal of the Nitrates Action Program and the review of the Nitrates derogation. This review takes place every four years and the current negotiation will refer the period from 2015 to 2018. The existing program has been effective with levels of both Nitrates and Phosphates in waterways showing significant reductions in recent years.

The commission are looking for assurance that the current proposals to increase agricultural output (“going for Growth”) will not adversely affect water quality and the environment.  The use of chemical nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser has been much reduced with phosphate levels in feed also at much lower levels than previously. There are now concerns that crop and animal production may be limited by a lack of these nutrients and DARD supported by AFBI are making a case for some relaxation in the regulations to ensure that food can be produced efficiently. The proposals tabled will permit more phosphate to be applied to low index soils and will recognise that only 60% of applied phosphate is actually available to the plant.

It is hoped that a program known as Nmax will be adopted to allow more flexibility in the use of nitrogen for high yielding arable crops. The case has been made for the continuation of the Nitrates Derogation for intensive dairy farms. While the number of farms applying for derogation has increased in recent months there are only 170 farms using the program and DARD believe that there is scope for many more farms to benefit from this scheme. 

The industry’s investment of 220 million euro in manure storage (supported by 133 million euro from DARD) has allowed much greater efficiency in the use of manures and has led to a major reduction in the use of chemical fertilisers. 

The commission are requesting a clearer definition of the prohibition on fertiliser applications in adverse weather conditions ie. rain and frost. Soil analysis will be required every four years and this along with crop requirement will determine the maximum level of fertiliser which can be applied.

There are concerns that expansion of the livestock sector and increased feed use will add to the positive phosphate balance. The challenge for farmers and nutritionists will be to ensure that the output of the sector keeps pace with feed inputs.

29/05/2014 Greenmount College.


GHGIP Executive Summary

GHGIP Phase 1 Report