A reminder of the changes to applying slurry prior to and following the closed period

Date published: 24 September 2020

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) has issued a reminder that the closed period for applying slurry will arrive soon.

The closed period runs from midnight on October 15, 2020 until midnight on January 31, 2021.

The closed period prohibits organic manures, excluding dirty water, from being spread from midnight October 15 to midnight on January 31.

Farmyard manure must not be applied from midnight October 31 to midnight January 31. These periods represent the time when the risk of nutrient loss to water is at its highest and there is little or no plant growth.

To further reduce the risk at either end of the closed period for slurry application impacting on water quality, new measures were introduced in 2019. The maximum application rate for slurry, from October 01 until the start of the closed period and during the month of February has been reduced from 50m3 (4,500 gal/ac) to 30m3 (2,700 gal/ac). Buffer zones or no spread areas around waterways and lakes have also been increased during these times, from 10m to 15m for any waterway and from 20m to 30m for lakes.

The buffer zone of 3m when using Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment (LESSE) and for small fields, as specified in the Nutrients Action Programme (NAP) 2019 – 2022, has been increased to 5m during these two months. These measures only apply to the months of October and February either side of the closed period.

Planning what fields are suitable to receive slurry over the next few weeks, in advance of the onset of the closed period is important. Critically, only apply slurry when ground and weather conditions are suitable and avoid, fields that may be a potential area of high nutrient loss to waterways throughout the winter months.

All farmers are required to have at least 22 weeks slurry/manure storage for their livestock enterprises. Pig and poultry enterprises require a minimum of 26 weeks. Having enough tank capacity gives the ability to store organic manure until the closed period has ended and provides flexibility in the timing of spreading if conditions are unfavourable in early spring.

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