Careful application of slurry this spring
As the date for permitting organic fertiliser spreading passes it is important to plan carefully how best to apply nutrients to grassland in the coming weeks and months from an economic, productivity and environmental viewpoint.
As chemical fertiliser prices have increased significantly in the past 12 months and remain high it is worth noting that value of organic fertilisers has also increased with 1,000 gallons of slurry worth approx. €50.
These tips will help to maximise the returns from slurry applications and reduce losses of nutrient to water:
- Ensure the capacity of organic manure stores, at a minimum, is sufficient to meet the storage requirements for your county.
- Prepare and implement a nutrient management plan to ensure the nutrients in slurry are targeted to where they are most needed, (consult your advisor).
- Apply slurry in spring where ground conditions are suitable and soil temperature is consistently greater than 6 degreesAvoid spreading slurry in critical source areas – these are areas of the farm that have high connectivity to water e.g. low lying areas of the farm prone to flooding.
- Do not apply slurry where heavy rainfall is forecast within 48 hours. Heavy rainfall on soils that are saturated or close to saturation will result in nutrient losses through overland flow and leaching where fertiliser is applied to these fields.
- Organic manure application rates must match grass growth rates to maximise nutrient uptake. Low growth rates means that crops will be slower to uptake nutrients and excess nutrients can be lost to water.
- Apply a 10 m buffer zone for 2 weeks after the closed period ends and a 5m buffer zone thereafter from drains and watercourses when spreading organic fertilisers.
- Ensure the tractor driver is aware of the location of drains, watercourses, wells, karst features, etc. when spreading organic fertilisers and observes the relevant buffer zones.
Applying slurry when heavy rainfall is forecast on soils that are saturated or close to saturation can result in runoff of slurry into the drainage network