All queries related to the use of splash plates for spreading slurry on larger farms in NI will be investigated, a DAERA spokesperson has said.
From 1 February 2022, farmers with over 200 cattle livestock units are required to use low-emission slurry spreading equipment (LESSE), such as trailing shoes and dribble bars.
The same rule applies to pig farms with annual manure nitrogen production over 20,000kg.
“Any instance of non-compliance will be investigated. If a farmer is unable to demonstrate that they have made every reasonable effort to comply with the Nutrients Action Plan (NAP) regulations, they will be in breach and may be subject to a cross-compliance penalty,” the DAERA spokesperson said.
Total livestock units should be estimated for the incoming year using the previous year’s stock numbers
It is estimated that 1,100 farms in NI are affected by the new rule, but it is up to individual farmers to calculate their total livestock units to see if the ban on splash plates applies to them.
“Total livestock units should be estimated for the incoming year using the previous year’s stock numbers, available on APHIS online records,” reads guidance from DAERA.
Each dairy cow and breeding bull equates to 1.0 livestock unit, while suckler cows and other cattle over two-year-old are assigned 0.8 units.
Cattle between 12 to 24 months equate to 0.6 livestock units and 0.4 units is applied to cattle under one year old.
Demand for LESSE tankers increased significantly due to the new NAP rules and the Tier 1 capital grant scheme.
This, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruption, has led to a delay in LESSE orders being completed by machinery manufacturers.
The DAERA spokesperson acknowledged that supply issues were occurring and stated that the department will have a “measured and pragmatic” approach to inspections this year.
“If a farmer with 200 or more cattle livestock units can demonstrate they have ordered LESSE machinery, but its manufacture or delivery has been delayed, it will be accepted that they have made every reasonable effort to comply with the NAP regulations,” the spokesperson confirmed.