Slurry spreading: Buffer zones wider for first 2 weeks

Buffer zones for surface waters increase from 5m to 10m in the first two weeks after the prohibited spreading period ends and the two weeks before the prohibited spreading period begins.

Under cross compliance, the statutory management requirement (SMR) 1 – protecting water against pollution caused by nitrates – farmers are required to adhere to a set of buffer zones for spreading organic fertilisers.

However, many may not be aware that the buffer zone for surface waters changes from 5m to 10m in the two weeks at the beginning and end of the spreading period.

This means that for farmers spreading slurry in Zone A, for example, application must not be within less than 10m of surface waters from January 13 to 26 or October 1 to 14.
Click here to check what zone you’re in

The table below shows the different buffer zones – for spreading organic fertilisers –  for different kinds of water bodies (lakes, rivers, wells etc).

Farmers must not spread soiled water, effluents, farmyard manures or other organic fertilisers inside these buffer zones.

Click to enlarge image. Source: DAFM

*Note: The buffer zones for the spreading of organic fertiliser increases from 5m to 10m in the two weeks at the beginning and end of the spreading period.

County councils and the public are watching

In December, AgriLand reported from the Irish Tillage and Land Use Society’s (ITLUS) conference.

Brendan Cooney – from Wexford County Council – spoke to the attendance and stated that: “Every single year, we know the exact day people start spreading slurry.”

Cooney knows the day because calls immediately start to come in to the county council from the public, complaining about the smell and practice of spreading slurry.

Cooney also made the point that when these calls come in, the county council must take action and – whether you know it or not – the county council do go out and investigate the call.

The environmental scientist stated: “We would get two-to-three phone calls every day about spreading slurry.”

He added that many of the people now living in the countryside are not from a rural background and many describe the smell from manure being spread as “toxic”.

Also Read: County councils receive 2 to 3 phone calls/day on slurry spreading

Follow up

Cooney also noted that if someone phones the county council and says that a farmer is spreading slurry into the river they have to follow up.

“We have to go out and see what’s going on. A lot of the time it means we go along and drive by. We get in our car, or we might get someone from the area offices to do a quick drive by to see what’s going on.

“Very often you can see straight away that there are quite good buffer zones beside rivers, but you need to be aware of that as farmers,” he concluded.