Farmers and contractors are likely to experience increased waiting times on the delivery of Low-Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) equipment following the most recent proposal under the latest consultation document on the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP).

It states that from 1 January 2023, the use of LESS equipment will be made compulsory for all farmers operating above 100kg livestock N/ha and for all pig farmers.

In addition, all organic matter applied to arable land will have to be applied using LESS methods or incorporated within 12 hours of application.

This follows last year’s announcement that derogation farms or farms operating above the standard nitrogen cut-off limit of 170kg/ha but remaining outside of derogation by means of slurry export from 15 April this year are required to apply slurry using LESS.

Lead times

Dealers and manufacturers are reporting lead times on slurry tankers ranging from eight to 12 months and even as far out as 14 months for higher-specification custom-built machines. One dealer noted that almost 85% of all new tankers sold are fitted with a dribble bar or trailing shoe systems.

Eibhlin Murphy, Major Equipment, Co Mayo

“There continues to be a high demand on LESS slurry equipment. We are currently taking orders for April and into May 2022.

“There’s a mix of both farmers and contractors currently investing in this type of equipment, with TAMS II funding encouraging more and more farmers to invest. We are seeing the balance swinging towards dribble bars (70%), followed by trailing shoes (approximately 28%), with some more professional operators going down the shallow disc injection route.”

Paul Quinn, Mastek, Co Cavan

“The current lead time on our PUDB range of dribble bars is between 10 and 12 weeks. Business has really stepped up a gear this year. In the region of 120 dribble bars are leaving us each month at the moment compared to what would have been 60 and 70 units this time last year.

“A lot of this is down to TAMS II; farmers want to avail of grant aid while it is still there. We are seeing a lot of the farmers that are opting to go down the route of a new tanker now going for larger 10.5m to 12m units than what we would have seen.

“That said, there is still a large number of farmers still going down the retrofit option and equipping an existing tanker with a typical 7.5m system.”

Dean Coonan, S& M Trailers, Co Tipperary

“We are currently working off an eight- and nine-month waiting list for new slurry tankers with LESS attachments. We are finding approximately 70% of our order book is farmers availing of TAMS funding. Quite a few of the contractors in this area are already set up with such LESS equipment. We are seeing a 50/50 split between dribble bars and trailing shoes.”

Grant aid

TAMS II funding for such equipment is currently available for all farmers, except those who are in derogation. Farmers above the standard nitrogen cutoff limit of 170kg/ha but not in derogation due to slurry exportation can still avail of the TAMS II grant aid on LESS equipment until 15 April 2022. Meanwhile, the consultation document has said that contractors must be supported to purchase appropriate equipment, referring to LESS equipment.