The value of pig slurry sits at €48 per 1,000 gallons at current fertiliser prices, but tightening nitrates rules are expected to make it more difficult for pig units to export slurry.

Teagasc’s Gerard McCutcheon told the IFA pig farmers’ meeting in Tallaght last week that there are a number of recent changes to slurry rules making it more difficult to export slurry from farms.

Calculations determining whether a grassland farm can import slurry is based on the current year’s stocking rate whereas in the past, the previous year’s stocking rate could be used.

Farms stocked over 130kg organic N/ha and all tillage farms must soil sample before importing slurry. All pig slurry must be spread using low emission slurry spreading (LESS) methods, increasing the costs for some drystock or dairy farmers to import.

IFA president Tim Cullinan raised the possibility of higher volumes of dairy farm slurry being exported, with cow banding rules now in effect and the possibility of derogation stocking rate cuts kicking in next year. More slurry moving off dairy farms could lead to competition in some areas between dairy and pig farmers for exporting land.

The switch by some livestock and tillage farmers to organics could also limit the amount of land available for spreading pig slurry.

Under current regulations, organic farms cannot spread pig slurry but they can spread cattle slurry generated on conventional farms.