Reducing exceptions is the next setback for the sector, says Jan Willem van Beek, agribusiness consultant at Alpha Accountants and Consultants. He calculates that the loss of the exception easily costs an average dairy farm 30,000 euros a year.
At the request of the Association of Accountants and Tax Advisers, the Alpha Department of Business Administration conducted a calculation. Animal manure use should be gradually reduced from 230 kg of nitrogen per hectare on sandy soils or 250 kg in other places to 170 kg per hectare in 2026.
Alfa has included a large number of variables in the calculation model to estimate the incremental costs for each individual company, says business consultant Jan-Willem van Beek of Zwolle. The first cost category is manure disposal, and more manure must be removed. How much fertilizer is included for each company? And if more slurry is to be disposed of nationally, costs are expected to rise, both for current disposal and for disposal of excess manure. On the other hand, slurry spreading costs per firm are declining.
In addition, the lack of nutrients on the plot must be supplemented, because less mortar is applied. You can supplement the nutrient deficiency with fertilizers within the rules. It is not only about nitrogen, animal manure also removes phosphate and potassium. We’ve included that in the calculations, Van Beek continues.
The quality of our soil, and thus the health of our livestock, comes on foot and disappears on horseback
Since fertilizer prices have crossed the cap this year due to the war in Ukraine, Alfa is calculating two scenarios: a high scenario based on the current average price level, and a low scenario based on the long-term average. Low yields in terms of forage value and mass over the medium term for grasslands or maize lands and loss of soil fertility due to loss of balanced fertilization were not included.
Density and soil type determine the effect
Based on these principles, Alfa analyzed the effect of loss of restraint. This effect appears to be determined mainly by the density and type of soil. It does not matter whether the company is large or small with the same density per hectare or per kilo of milk. For all types of farms, the impact is less on farms on eastern and southern sandy soils and loess soils. This class of companies has the least amount of financial barriers due to the already low application standard of 230 kg and the limited use of fertilizers.
Van Beek: “In general, you’re talking about 3 euro cents per liter of milk. Then you’ll soon be up to 30,000 euros a year. This often corresponds to family income, the amount of special withdrawals. Thus, limiting the exceptions puts a financial strain. In addition, the stipulated fertilization-free areas around aquifers, in addition to the loss of production, have a negative impact on fertilizer disposal costs of €34 per hectare.
And that amount could go up even more, Van Beek notes. What we didn’t include in the calculations, but what happens, is the chance that soil fertility will decrease because you can use less organic fertilizer. This eventually leads to a reduction in the nutrients in the feed. This is a medium-term concern, but you can’t really calculate the impact.
According to Van Beek, suggesting phasing out the restriction could prevent the effect of the identified results. “But we also know that the quality of our soil, and therefore the health of our livestock, comes on foot and disappears on horseback.”
Alpha’s business manager criticizes the proposed developments. “The phasing out of the restriction and implementing their own company is not an isolated process. In practice, the interrelationship with other upcoming implementation of the nitrate directive and the new CAP is underestimated. Van Beek concludes that the upcoming buffer strips, exemptions from conditions based on grassland share Permanent, various environmental premiums and the like will prevent a large-scale shift, for example, to the unilateral cultivation of silage corn.