Almost half of all slurry is now being applied on Irish farms through low emissions slurry spreading (LESS) methods, a Teagasc study on manure management has found.

The study is based on analysis of farms with bovine animals over the 2017 to 2021 period using data collected by the Teagasc national farm survey (NFS).

The trailing shoe, followed by trailing hose, are the two most commonly used technologies, with the use of LESS increasing significantly since the start of the study period.

“There has been a significant transition in the way slurry is applied to land, with a move away from the splash plate method towards various LESS methods (injection, trailing shoe and trailing hose) over the study period,” Teagasc said.

“In 2017, 94% of slurry was applied via splash plate, but this decreased to 52% by 2021. Conversely, the use of LESS increased from 4% to 48% between 2017 and 2021, with trailing shoe and trailing hose accounting for the largest portion of these applications.”


The survey found that 45% of all slurry is applied between January and April and a further 43% was applied between May and July.

Some 10% of slurry was applied between August and September, with 2% applied in the October to December period.

The figures are almost flipped for farmyard manure (FYM) applications, with 8% applied between January and April and 11% applied between May and July.

Some 33% of FYM was applied between August and September and almost 50% between October and December.

Critical information

Commenting on the results of the study, Dr Cathal Buckley of Teagasc noted that the report will provide policymakers with critical information to support the continued development of Ireland’s national inventory accounting system for gaseous emissions in agriculture.

He noted that as farmers implement changes to farm management practices, such as the adoption of LESS, “it is important that we are able to capture and reflect this activity in the greenhouse gas and ammonia national inventory accounting systems”.

Head of the Teagasc agricultural economics and farm surveys department and co-author of the report Trevor Donnellan noted: “The Teagasc NFS has been adapted in recent years to collect a wider suite of management data relevant to the environment.

"This will allow the Teagasc NFS to provide greater support to policy development and ensure that the sector gets recognition for the progress it makes in addressing environmental objectives.”