Trailing shoes can reduce chemical fertiliser use and smell

Date published: 28 August 2020

Research has indicated that grass yields can be increased up to 25 per cent by the use of a trailing shoe as opposed to the use of splash plates when spreading slurry and is therefore definitely worth investigating as an effective method of reducing the use of chemical fertilisers.

A trailing shoe tanker.

Brian Finch, an Environmental Adviser at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) spoke to Robert Martin a dairy farmer from Kilkeel in Co Down about the process.

Robert Martin said: “I have been using a trailing shoe system for five years on my 160 cow dairy unit. I am getting better nutrient uptake using the system with the result that I can reduce chemical fertiliser use in my three cut silage system. The other big advantage found is the reduction in odour after spreading. My neighbours really appreciate that.”

CAFRE’s Brian Finch said: “Trailing shoes are one method of Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESSE). This also includes trailing hose (dribble bar) and shallow injection methods.

“All LESSE systems place the slurry or digestate onto or into the ground, thereby reducing risk of nutrient runoff to waterways and nitrogen loss to the air as ammonia by up to 60 per cent compared to the splash plate. LESSE systems can play an important role in reducing ammonia emissions and improving water quality in Northern Ireland.  This is especially important with water and air quality a key environmental issue for farming.

“The big advantage of the trailing shoe over the trailing hose is being able to spread on higher grass covers, as the system works by parting the grass and appling the slurry at ground level. This reduces the risk of grass contamination especially in later cuts during dry weather. 

“Robert Martin spreads all his slurry with a 2,500 gallon tanker which came fitted with the trailing shoe system. During the five years he has been using the system, he hasn’t experienced any problems such as the macerator clogging or replacing worn parts. He does find some drag when spreading and the tanker is slightly slower to empty compared to the splash plate.”

Meanwhile, Robert Martin continued: adds “These issues do not outweigh the many advantages. My only advice to any farmer considering using it, is to have the slurry well diluted and mixed before spreading to get an even flow rate.”

The use of LESSE is included in the most recent changes to Nutrients Action Programme Regulations (NI) 2019.  From this year all digestate has to spread using LESSE and all derogated farms from June 15 – October 15 each year, contractors from 2021 and all large pig units / livestock farms with 200LU or more from 2022.  It should also be noted that if you are using LESSE the distance from waterways can be reduced to 3 metres.

Brian Finch concluded: “Using LESSE has many benefits such as increasing slurry nutrient value, reducing ammonia emissions, nutrient runoff and the smell. A win-win for the environment, your pocket and your neighbours.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.

Share this page

Back to top