Get in the zone ahead of slurry spreading season - See the slurry spreading dates across Ireland
Ground conditions should be favourable when the dates for slurry spreading open again from next week
Let me start by wishing all readers a happy and healthy 2019. We had unseasonably mild weather over Christmas and the New Year, which has really helped ground conditions come on.
Provided things don't take a sudden turn for worse, conditions for slurry spreading should be favourable as the dates open again from next week in "Zone A" counties (see table 1). The opening dates for counties in Zones B and C are also fast approaching - and just in the nick of time for many farmers as slatted units come close to capacity.
This time last year was quite a different story as a lot of land was heavily waterlogged, so even when the dates opened for spreading, in reality getting out and doing so was nigh-on impossible.
A similar conundrum occurred in autumn when closing dates loomed even though farmers had hundreds of thousands of gallons still to spread as a result of the awful spring weather of 2018. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and an extension was given which allowed farmers to make space in their tanks before winter.
The value of spring application
For years it was thought that the way to get most value from your slurry was to apply it in summertime. This led to farmers across the country putting out load after load of slurry immediately after first cut silage.
The latest research and advice from Teagasc is that spring application of slurry is far more beneficial to your grass than summer spreading - with the important caveat that spreading conditions have to be right.
The main reason for favouring spring application of slurry has to do with Nitrogen (N) recovery. At the moment in Ireland, the majority of slurry is applied to silage ground when utilisation of Ammonium N (the useful fertiliser fraction of slurry) is at its lowest due to higher average temperatures and higher evaporation rates. Farmers stand to make a significant saving by making the simple decision to spread more slurry in the springtime when Ammonium N uptake is more efficient.