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N190 Nitrogen Cap FAQs


Frequently asked questions regarding the new nitrogen cap rules.

What is the 190kg N/ha/yr Cap?

It is a maximum limit of synthetic nitrogen that can be applied to pastoral land as a permitted activity. It only applies to synthetic nitrogen (i.e. the nitrogen content of the synthetic fertiliser whether all nitrogen or as a combination of nutrients) where the dry weight is more than 5% nitrogen. However, where manufactured and biological nitrogen fertilisers are mixed together, and their combined nitrogen content comes to more than 5% of their dry weight, they become synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and are covered by the nitrogen cap.

When does the 190kg N/ha/yr cap limit apply?

The 190kg N/ha/yr cap limit applies for each year from 1 July to the following 30 June. 

Which farms does this apply to?

All farms 20 hectares and larger that have any grazed land, regardless of:

  • The type of plant grazed - whether permanent pasture or annual crops.
  • The type of grazing animal - whether cattle, sheep, pigs, deer, poultry, goats, horses, etc.
  • The duration of the grazing - whether it is for a few days or the whole year.

What land does the N190 cap apply to?

  • Each individual hectare of grazed pasture has a cap of 190kg/N/ha.
  • All grazed land on farm including grazed forage crops and harvest crops must average 190kg/ha/N for each contiguous landholding.

Do I have to report my nitrogen use to council?

Currently only dairy farms must report their nitrogen use to council however the rules still apply to all farm types.

What is a contiguous landholding?

A contiguous landholding is any block of connected land belonging to a farming operation. If a farm has several unconnected blocks, separated by land not belonging to the farm, each block is a separate contiguous landholding. Blocks separated by roads, rail or waterways such as rivers and creeks are still classified as contiguous. 

What is a land category?

To report your nitrogen usage to council, your landholding needs to be split into land categories.  There are two overarching categories, grazed land and ungrazed land. All grazed land on the dairy is subject to the 190kg/ha nitrogen cap. Grazed land is split into three land categories.

  • Grazed Pasture - All grazed grassland not intended for harvest. Grazed pasture has an nitrogen cap of 190kg/ha
  • Grazed Forage Crops - Annual forage crops not intended for harvest.  Forage crops have no nitrogen cap but are included in the grazed land where average N applied must be 190kg/ha or less. 
  • Grazed Harvest Crops - Intermittently grazed crops that are intended for harvest (may include grains, grasses,trees). Harvest crops where stubble only is grazed are classified as ungrazed land. Grazed harvest crops have no nitrogen cap but are included in the grazed land where average N applied must be 190kg/ha or less.

Ungrazed land refers to land that is used for purposes other than grazing for all or part of the year.  This includes laneways, dairy sheds and ungrazed harvest crops. Nitrogen applied to ungrazed land is not capped and is not included in the average nitrogen calculation for the landholding. Although ungrazed land is not included in the cap, all nitrogen use on the contiguous landholding must be reported.

What if my paddocks are in different land categories during the year?

Paddocks on the farm can be classified in different land categories during the year.  For example if a paddock is used for both grazing and silage/baleage/hay, it is classified as pasture when grazed, and as ungrazed land once grazing has stopped until harvest. 

When reporting, if a paddock is in forage crop for at any point of the year in conjunction with grazed pasture or grazed harvest crops then the nitrogen applications will all be reported under the grazed forage crop category regardless of land category. Ungrazed land will always remain outside of the grazed land calculations.  

I already give my nitrogen use to my dairy company, do I still need to supply to council?

Yes, the information required under the legislation is different from the information you supply to your dairy company.  Using HawkEye you can easily create the correct reports needed for council. 

When do I have to report to council?

Your nitrogen use information is due to council by the 31st July for the previous reporting year.

Read more about getting ready for nitrogen cap reporting here.

Learn More About

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