Northern Ireland farmers will be asked to fill out manure exports online in the new year - but it's expected the move to digital will also help to save some of their Basic Payment.

The region's environment agency (NIEA) is introducing a new system for the online submission of records for manure export forms from January 2018.

The new system is designed to make it easier and quicker for farmers, or their agents, to submit records while also reducing the risk of errors and potential penalties to the Basic Payments.

The online submission section for dung and slurry export records for non-derogated farms sits alongside the CAFRE nutrient calculators which farmers should already be familiar with to calculate their nitrogen loading and storage capacity.

The online process for completion and submission of manure export records for 2017 will ‘go live’ from January 1, 2018 here.

Under the new process farmers or their advisors should prepare their manure export records for 2017 and submit these online by midnight, January 31, 2018.

Action to take now

Farmers and agents not already using the department's (DAERA) online services will need to register with the government gateway to obtain access.

Go to DAERA's online services page, click on “Login to DAERA online services” and choose “Register with Government Gateway”.

It is important those who need to register act now as registrations will take time to be processed.

The department said its experience had shown the submission of records online will "vastly reduce" the number of errors and potential breaches.

However, if farmers have any concerns they should seek further advice from CAFRE, their farming organisation or agricultural consultant if they have any issues around the online submission of information.

Derogated farms

It should be noted that derogated farms will submit their fertilisation accounts and manure export records at a separate location on the DAERA website by March 1, 2018; a link is expected to be published shortly.