The closed period for spreading slurry on agricultural land in Ireland is set to kick in at midnight tonight, Thursday, October 14.

Farmers are being reminded they will not be allowed to spread slurry on or after October 15, in the Republic of Ireland until the season reopens next year.

The probation period for spreading chemical fertiliser has been in place since September 15, and farmers still have until November 1, to spread any remaining farm-yard manure on their land.

The return to dry weather this week saw ground conditions improving and many farmers got a good chance to offload any remaining slurry in their tanks.

However, while ground conditions have improved, some ground is still very slippy and tractor drivers are being reminded to be particularly cautious on hills and sloping ground – in particular if applying slurry to land with a tank.

Many farmers, in regions where ground conditions – in particular around gaps – will not allow for a tank to be used, tend to hire a contractor with an umbilical system to spread their remaining slurry.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the aim of the closed period is to protect ground and surface water, including drinking water.

The regulations also prohibit the spreading of slurry at any time of the year when the ground is frozen or waterlogged – or when heavy rain is forecast – in order to prevent slurry running off into waterways.

Ideally, farmers should target slurry on ground with a low Phosphorus (P) or Potassium (K) index or land which has been cut for silage and has not had nutrients returned to it.

However, as the prohibited period is drawing close, dryer paddocks or fields which have been well grazed recently are probably the best bet to target now.

Spreading any remaining slurry in tanks now will leave more space in farmers’ storage tanks come springtime and will help alleviate the risk of running out of slurry storage space if a late spring is experienced in 2022.

The closed period for spreading chemical fertiliser, organic fertiliser and farmyard manure comes to an end at different times during the month of January – depending on counties and regions.