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Transitioning to LESS

Transitioning to LESS

With the recent changes to nitrates regulations there are a large number of farmers who will be moving from the traditional splash plate to using Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) for the first time. Francis Quigley, Farm Machinery & Milking Machine Specialist, tells us more.

Farmers with a stocking rate of +130kg/ha will have to move to LESS this year and may be using equipment such as a dribble bar, or trailing shoe for the first time.

This is a very important step in reducing the ammonia losses when applying slurry for environmental reasons but also for the financial benefits of maximising the nitrogen uptake from this valuable resource.

In order to make the best use of the available nutrients it is important to ensure that you are applying the correct amount in the right field and at the right time. The LESS spreaders will allow slurry to be used in heavier grass covers as the slurry is placed at ground level under the grass cover.  This means that slurry can be applied to fields which you would not in the past have considered for early spring applications because of grass contamination by the splash plate. It is important to use this to your advantage and apply the slurry where it will give you the best return. Look at your soil sample results and target the use of slurry on the fields which have low P&K. If possible delay the application of slurry until there is good grass growth. By waiting to applying the slurry in the spring growing season the amount of nitrogen recovered from the slurry will be maximised.


You will also need to ensure that you are applying the slurry evenly and at the right rate. Getting the right application rate has always been a bit of a guessing game. Teagasc have created a simple online calibration calculator to eliminate this guess work. The tool can be used with any type of slurry tanker no matter what applicator is being used on the back. It works on you smart phone so it can be accessed from the tractor seat. It is simple to use, sliders allow you to input the size of tanker, spread width and the time taken to empty the load. Then select you desired application rate and it will give you the correct forward speed needed. This will ensure you are making the most of the valuable fertiliser source.  

Access the Teagasc Slurry Calibration Tool here