Slurry; planning and precision pays

Rebecca Audsley, Principal Consultant, SAC Consulting

Following dramatic increases in the price of feed, fuel and fertiliser this year, we are all looking for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency.  With estimates suggesting that a single 10m3 tanker of slurry can contain the equivalent fertiliser value of over £80, maybe now is the time to consider how you can make best use of nutrients in slurry through planned and timely applications, supporting the nutrient demands of the growing crop.

How and when you apply slurry matters.  Precision application, using kit such as dribble bars, trailing shoe or injection places the slurry closer to the growing crop when compared to splash plate application.  Broadcast slurry application using a splash plate has been estimated to lose around 30% of available nitrogen in the form of ammonia gas in the first three hours and up to 80% within 12 hours post application, depleting the nutrient value at a loss to the farm business. With changes to Scottish legislation, high trajectory splash plate application of slurry will no longer be an option for most farms from January 2023.

Slurry should not be considered a waste.  If you don’t have a nutrient management plan in place already, maybe now is the time?  By reviewing soil and pH test results and planning fertiliser applications accordingly, you can maximise the value from farm slurry and manures whilst also making the most cost-effective use of bought in fertiliser. Not only can this approach save you money, but it could decrease the farm carbon footprint and reduce diffuse pollution risks, benefitting the farm’s environmental performance too.

Farming For a Better Climate is funded by the Scottish Government.

This article was first published in the July-August edition of the Farming Scotland magazine.

Learn more

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe and stay up to date with our latest news & resources.