New rules for slurry spreading proposed in air pollution plan

A raft of new regulations for slurry spreading have been proposed by the Government in a new air pollution plan, which includes a transition to low-emission spreading technology.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment has published its National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP), which will be subject to a public consultation process until Friday, July 5.

The document puts forth a number of options for slurry spreading, including a move away from summer application to spring spreading, and the use of low-emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment, such as trailing shoes or dribble bars, which should be used for both cattle and pig slurry.

These methods should be combined with extended grazing measures, which would keep cattle out for longer and reduce the amount of manure stored, the department paper said.

The recommendations also suggest an ‘Altered Time Management System’ (ATMS) which would tailor slurry spreading to “favourable weather conditions”.

In particular, the document says that even moving slurry application to evening time can have a positive effect, and that there is evidence that such a measure can knock 20% off emissions.

A further recommendation pertains to how outdoor slurry storage tanks are covered, suggesting the use of tight lids or floating covers; while both these measures would be effective, the report outlines that these may be difficult to incorporate into existing infrastructure.

The document summarises its recommendations for slurry spreading as follows:

  • Only spreading in line with the “foreseeable nutrient requirement” of the area where slurry is to be applied;
  • Not spreading when the receiving land is water saturated, flooded, frozen or snow covered;
  • Applying slurry using trailing hoses, trailing shoes, or through shallow or deep injection;
  • Incorporating slurries spread to arable land within the soil within four hours of spreading.

The proposals have been drawn up in line with EU obligations for all member states; after the public consultation period, the plan will then be disseminated to the EU.