Friday 30 September 2016

Pig manure brokerage in pipeline as nitrates loopholes tighten up

Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30

Never used pig slurry, but always wondered what it could do for your soils? Get ready to go online says Teagasc researcher, Amy Quinn.

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Pig slurry is one of the richest slurries generated in Irish farming, but the vast majority of farmers have never used it.

There are lots of reasons for this - bagged fertiliser was cheap, pig farmers were miles away, and so on. But a number of regulatory changes, and subsequent internet developments are set to change all of that.

A renewed focus among tillage farmers on maximising the organic matter content of their soils, coupled with the spiralling cost of fertiliser, has sparked fresh interest in the use of slurry, and none more so than pig manure.

Pig manure can improve soil structure and organic content, along with reducing the vulnerability of farmers to fluctuations in fertiliser costs.

Crucially. it appears that more pig manure will be looking for new outlets in the coming years as the transitional elements of the nitrates directive begin to phase out.

This process began when these regulations first kicked in, with land neighbouring pig units unable to take on as much pig manure as they did in the past.

This dual requirement - pig farmers looking for new outlets for an increasingly valuable resource, and tillage farmers looking for new ways to minimise costs and maintain soil structure - led a team of researchers to start working on a new online facility designed to allow these two parties get to know each other.

Set to be launched over the coming months, farmers will get a sneak preview of the new brokering tool at the Crops and Spraying open day.

But before you invest in pig slurry, you need to know what you are investing in. Putting a value on pig manure depends on the amount and cost of the bagged fertiliser that it is going to replace.

Typically, pig slurry has 4.3pc solids, but this can be cross-checked using a hydrometer. At this concentration, and taking fertiliser quotes from spring 2015, pig slurry would worth €5.87 per cubic metre (220 gallons).

In old money, this translates into 1000 gallons being worth €26.65, or being equivalent to a 50kg bag of 19:7:20. This assumes that there is a crop requirement for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and a 50pc availability of the nitrogen to the crop.

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