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Which slurry application system is most effective?

Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment or LESSE is an effective way to increase the amount of nutrient available, for crop growth, from slurry application, while reducing the loss of nutrient to air or water. 

Robert Edwards from the Sustainable Land Management Branch at CAFRE said: “In Northern Ireland, the inverted splash plate is still the main method of slurry application.”

“However, splash plate systems have high ammonia emissions (nitrogen loss) and they can also increase the risk of surface run-off into water.

Many farmers already using LESSE systems are finding an increase in the nutrient content of the applied slurry which can mean either increased crop yields or the opportunity to reduce fertiliser rates and subsequent costs.”

Table 1 (pictured) contains a comparison of slurry application systems.

Robert continued: “From Table 1, it’s clear that the inverted splash plate method of application is the least effective method to reduce ammonia emissions (nitrogen loss).”

“The trailing shoe and shallow injection methods are much more effective in reducing ammonia emissions and therefore increase the nutrients available from the slurry. Another advantage of LESSE, such as reduced odour is becoming increasingly important.”

LESSE and the Nutrients Action Programme (NAP) 2019-2022

The Nutrients Action Programme (NAP) 2019-22 includes requirements for using low emission slurry spreading equipment and these are summarised in Table 2 (pictured).

LESSE and derogated farms

The NAP sets out the conditions required to be met by farms operating under a NAP derogation, including the mandatory use of LESSE from June 15.

Due to the delay in bringing the regulations into effect, it was accepted that for 2019 some conditions could not be met for that year and DAERA have taken this into account during inspections.

Derogated farms are still obliged to comply with the regulations, however, DAERA recognises the need for a measured and pragmatic approach during this time.

On inspection, DAERA will consider evidence provided, with the farmer required to demonstrate that they made every reasonable effort to comply with the regulations.

DAERA is aware of constraints on the manufacture and supply of LESSE including the difficulties arising from Covid-19 and will continue to monitor the situation.

Robert Edwards added: “Low emission slurry spreading systems can play a significant part in increasing the nitrogen content of slurry by reducing ammonia emissions. These systems will have an increasing role in reducing ammonia emissions from farms in Northern Ireland.”

“In addition to the improvements in nutrient use, the use of Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment will also benefit the environment by reducing the potential for water contamination and nuisance odours.”

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