Making the most of manures

Rising oil prices have resulted in increased fertiliser prices and so it’s more important than ever that farmers make efficient use of the nutrients in farm manures. Teagasc experts recently demonstrated new techniques to ensure the most efficient spreading of fertiliser, at an open day in Johnstown Castle. Speaking at the open day, Teagasc researcher Stan Lalor said: ‘The price of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash is such that care must be taken with every kilogram of fertiliser spread. The nutrients in 1,000 gallons of animal slurry are now worth around €25. This is a valuable cost-saving for farmers on their fertiliser bill, provided artificial fertiliser applications are adjusted accordingly.’ Research results comparing different slurry application methods on ammonia emissions were presented. On average, the nitrogen uptake was higher and ammonia emissions were lower when the slurry was applied using the trailing shoe machine. However, significant benefits were also found when slurry is applied in spring (April), rather than in the summer (June). Under optimal weather conditions, splashplate application is still an effective slurry application method. Head of Teagasc Johnstown Castle Environment Research Centre, Dr Noel Culleton pointed to the benefits to the environment from making more efficient use of the nutrients in animal manures. He said: ‘In addition to saving money, the effective use of slurry can lead to a reduction in emissions of ammonia to the air, leading to fewer odours, better air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This together with the cost savings for farmers provides a double dividend.’