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Teagasc Manure Management Report Launched

Teagasc has launched a new study examining manure management practices on Irish farms, which influence the environmental impact of agriculture.

Teagasc Manure Management Report Launched

The study is based on analysis of farms with bovine animals over the 2016 to 2018 period using data collected by the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS). The study, which is published today, Wednesday 20 May, provides reliable detail on the duration of bovine animal housing periods, the prevalence of different types of slurry and farmyard manure storage facilities, the proportion of manures generated by different animal types, the extent of seasonality of manure application and the extent to which various slurry application and manures storage methods are employed.  Results are presented at an aggregate level and on a national, nitrate zone and farm system basis over the study period.

The report generally takes a 3 year average approach to filter out year on year variations. The data show that dairy cows and bulls were housed for 121 days, while other bovine livestock categories tend to be housed for between 147-150 days.

In all, 81% of manure was stored as slurry and 19% as farmyard manure (FYM).  In aggregate terms, 30% of slurry was derived from dairy cows, 25% from suckler cows and 11-14% from each of the cattle 0 to 1 years and cattle 1 to 2 year age categories.  A total of 44% of slurry was applied to land between January and April, with a further 40%, 13% and 3% applied between May-July, August-September, October-December respectively. 

Nationally, the vast majority of slurry (84%) was found to be applied via the splash plate method, with a further 10%, 3% and 1% by umbilical, low emissions slurry spreading and injection methods respectively. The majority of aggregate slurry (87%) was stored under a roofed slatted tank.

Commenting on the results of the study, Dr. Cathal Buckley of Teagasc noted that the report will provide policymakers with critical information to support the continued development of Ireland’s national inventory accounting system for gaseous emissions in agriculture. The data will also support the development of policy relevant to the Nitrates Directive. Dr. Buckley noted that, as farmers implement farm management practice change, such as adoption of Low Emission Slurry Spreading, it is important that we are able to capture and reflect this activity in the greenhouse gas and ammonia national inventory accounting systems.

Head of the Teagasc Agricultural Economics & Farm Surveys Department and co-author of the report, Trevor Donnellan noted, “The Teagasc NFS has been adapted in recent years to collect a wider suite of management data relevant to the environment. This will allow the Teagasc NFS to provide greater support to policy development and ensure that the sector gets recognition for the progress it makes in addressing environmental objectives.”    The full report can be viewed at https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2020/Manure-Management-Practices-Report.pdf