Farmers have been granted one extra week to get slurry tanks emptied ahead of the housing period.

The closed period for slurry spreading now begins on 8 October, having previously been set at 30 September.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced on Thursday that the decision came after an assessment conducted by officials in the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Housing.

Grass growth rates and weather conditions were among the criteria which had to be examined before the extension could be granted.

These criteria are intended to ensure that extending the spreading period does not threaten water quality.

“I recognise that unseasonable weather conditions experienced this summer and within the last week, have impacted trafficability and provided limited opportunities for possible slurry applications by farmers and contractors,” Minister McConalogue said

“Slurry is a valuable source of nutrients and is best utilised using low-emission slurry spreading and especially in spring when growth and weather conditions are typically favourable for utilising nutrients and limit run-off and emissions to the environment.”

Appropriate spreading conditions

The Department reminded farmers of the need to bring about improvements in water quality, stating that slurry should only be spread in the right conditions and where buffer zones are observed.

“The majority of slurry has been spread well in advance of the closed period and this must be acknowledged and indeed commended,” the minister added.

“This limited extension will allow farmers spread any remaining slurry in the best conditions available to them.”