A little over thirty minutes outside Cork City is the village of Lissarda, where Trevor Crowley farms alongside his wife, Olive, and son, Gavin. For five generations the Crowleys have farmed this land and today, they run a 160-head Friesian herd.
The Crowleys operate a grass-based, spring-calving system, where each year they keep followers until they become stores or replacements.
Seventeen years ago, Trevor began to have trouble agitating his slurry tanks. He had three tanks and found that they required excessive time and effort to get the slurry to an acceptable state where it could be spread.
It often left him under pressure to get it out on the land when it was needed.
He began looking for ways to make his life easier but to also improve the slurry quality. The first step he took was undertaking machine research, before he decided to try the EASYFIX Slurry Technology system.
“The first thing I noticed was just how safe it is. The gases are never allowed build-up in the slurry. You don’t have to go into the shed with dangerous gases in there,” he said.
“Probably the main advantage is that there is a considerable saving on fertilizer because we’re achieving a better use of the nutrients.
“When using the old system you’d notice worms dead on top of the ground after spreading slurry, whereas with this new system we’ve only seen increased worm activity in the soil. So our soil is extremely healthy.”
“The other thing we noticed was that you could graze the grass within three weeks of spreading the slurry, whereas with the old way you’d have to wait nearly six weeks before the cattle could graze it,” he continued.
“We’ve been able to maintain the soil’s Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) at their optimum index of three and four, with very little input of chemical fertilizer. It’s a considerable saving on both money and time.”
Ease and pace of spreading
The bubbles, which meander through the tank gently massage the slurry to encourage increased aerobic activity, ensure that you do not have to agitate the slurry.
“You can spread slurry at the drop of a hat; if the weather allows you a window of opportunity all you do is put on the tanker and go.
“In 2015, we purchased a 2500gal tanker and trailing shoe that has really streamlined the system. Now, with the consistency and quality of the slurry, we can spread slurry any time and it has really improved the output per t/DM/ac.
“This is probably because of the P and K are put where they’re supposed to be, which is on the roots of the grass.”
Running off a simple compressor, pipe and rotary valve network, the EASYFIX Slurry Technology system can be fitted in any tank, store or lagoon – new or old.
“It’s extremely cheap to run. It only costs less than nine cent per port, per day to agitate the slurry. The system was retrofitted into old sheds and we found the reliability excellent.
“In fact, in the seventeen years it has been installed and the 14,000 hours on the pump, the only thing we’ve had to do was to replace a set of vanes – could you find better reliability than that,” added Trevor.
Reduced ammonia and methane emissions
EASYFIX Slurry Technology is a low-rate, intermittent aerobic compressor system that injects compressed air into slurry at specific points via non-return valves. The oxygen that flows through the valve creates a bubble and as it rises through the slurry, it helps to break it down and ensure that it remains in a liquid state.
Only one port is ‘live’ at any time, meaning air is jetted out at two or four specified points, before a pneumatic distribution rotary valve opens the next port.
Farmers are all too aware that their future is linked to improving sustainability and efficiency of processes. EASYFIX Slurry Technology is proven to reduce ammonia emissions by 51%, while it also assists in the reduction of methane emissions by, on average, 54%.
Addressing these two challenges makes EASYFIX Slurry Technology a comprehensive investment in maximizing the potential of slurry and having less reliance on artificial fertilizers. As Trevor put it, “it’s good for the environment, it’s good for the soil and it’s good for my pocket.”