All slurry applied to fields in NI from 2026 onwards with have to be done with low-emission slurry spreading equipment (LESSE) such as a dribble bar or a trailing shoe.

The change is set out in a long-awaited DAERA draft ammonia strategy, out for public consultation until 3 March 2023.

But as well as the total ban on the use of splashplates from 2026, there are also some interim measures outlined in the consultation.

From 1 January 2025 all slurry exported and imported between farms will have to be applied using LESSE, as will all slurry spread within 1km of an internationally designated (Natura 2000) site.


Spreading any slurry within 50m of these sites will be prohibited from this date.

These measures are in addition to those already in place under the Nutrient Action Programme.

Contractors were required to use LESSE from 1 February 2021, and the same rule applied to all larger cattle (over 200 livestock units) and pig farms (over 20,000kg of manure nitrogen) from 1 February 2022.

Best estimates suggest that a complete switch to LESSE will deliver a 5-10% reduction in total ammonia emissions from NI agriculture.

However, the DAERA target is to reduce total NI agricultural ammonia emissions by at least 30% by 2030, when compared to 2020 levels. As a result, a significant suite of other actions is required.

The DAERA consultation does not go into any detail on what money might be made available to help farmers implement these changes. However, it does refer to “appropriate financial support” being provided through the Stormont Executive’s Green Growth plan and relevant Future Agricultural Policy measures.

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