Know your dates for slurry spreading

The prohibited period when slurry spreading is not allowed on Irish farms will come to an end in the coming weeks.

Slurry is prohibited from being spread over the winter in Ireland so as to comply with the European Union’s Nitrates Directive. The aim is to protect ground and surface water, including drinking water. The regulations also prohibit such application at any time of the year when the ground is frozen, waterlogged or heavy rain is forecast.

Key dates

slurry deadline

Chemical Slurry Spreading Dates

Zone A – 12th Jan -15th September

Zone B – 15th Jan – 15th September

Zone C – 31st Jan – 15th September

Organic Slurry Spreading Dates

Zone A  – 12th Jan -15th October

Zone B – 15th Jan – 15th October

Zone C  – 31st Jan – 15th October

Farmyard Manure Slurry Spreading Dates

Zone A  – 12th Jan – 1st November

Zone B  – 15th Jan – 1st November

Zone C  – 31st Jan – 1st November

For many years now Teagasc has been advising farmers to spread their slurry in the spring. Although chemical fertiliser costs stabilised this year they still remain at a high level so making the most of their animal slurry remains essential for farmers.

Teagasc estimates that one third of animal slurry in Ireland is spread in the spring. Its research has found that it is in the spring when slurry applications are much more successful in terms of encouraging grass growth. Teagasc has found that applications in the spring have an Nitrogen recovery rate of 25%.

With this being the case it is unfortunate that 60 per cent on animal slurry continues to be applied in the summer/autumn when it is much less effective. Teagasc estimates that results as low as five per cent recovery of Nitrogen has been are the norm in this period.

According to Teagasc, 3,000 gallons/acre of slurry will supply 30 kg N (25 per cent recovery) in the spring but only 6 kg N (five per cent recovery) in the summer/autumn; 20 kg P; and 140 kg K.

Therefore Teagasc estimates 24 kg/ha (19 units/acre) of extra Nitrogen can be captured by switching a 33 m3/ha (3,000 gals/acre) from the summer to the spring. At current fertiliser costs, this could be worth €20/ha (€8/acre) to the farmer.