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Use of Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment

Agriculture is estimated to be responsible for 99% of ammonia losses in Ireland, while slurry and farmyard manure spreading is thought to be responsible for 30% of those losses. Teagasc advisors Mark Coyne and Jim Moyles have advice and information.

Low emission slurry spreading techniques, such as trailing shoe or dribble bar or umbilical system with a dribble bar place the slurry in bands or lines on the ground, rather than across the entire surface as with the conventional splashplate method.  LESS techniques combined with the correct timing of application have been shown to decrease ammonia emissions by up to 30% compared with splashplate application. 

Other than these environmental benefits, there are many other advantages farmers can enjoy from using LESS techniques, namely:

  • Increasing the amount of nitrogen available for grass growth by an extra 3 units for every thousand gallons spread, thereby reducing the requirement for chemical N.
  • Reduced grass contamination, this gives multiple benefits including:
    • Can spread on higher grass covers;
    • Better graze out by cows;
    • Allows shorter interval between spreading and grazing;
    • Wider spreading window to target slurry onto lower P & K soils.

Cash reserves, herd size, labour resources and the availability or otherwise of a local agri-contractor will all contribute to your decision to either use a contractor or purchase your own LESS equipment.  Although there is a significant capital cost with the purchase of LESS equipment, attractive TAMS grants at rates of either 60% or 40% excluding VAT are currently available, but are due to end in December 2020.

In terms of the new requirements for Derogations farmers, all slurry spread on farms since 15th April this year, must have been spread by using LESS equipment.  Splashplate spreaders are now essentially prohibited on derogation farms other than for use with soiled water.

DAFM will require farmers to furnish records on the volume of slurry spread by LESS for 2020 and 2021.  This information will be captured retrospectively on the DAFM Derogation Application form on a yearly basis.  Farmers in Derogation will be required to provide evidence of the use of a contractor such as invoices or details of their own LESS equipment.  

In summary, Low Emission Slurry Spreading can be a Win: Win for both the environment, through reduced ammonia emissions and the farmer through both reduced chemical N and grass contamination.