Slurry is a key fertiliser to boost grass and crop growth on farms, yet it also impacts air quality, heightens the risk of spreading antibiotic-resistance to humans, and can pollute waterways.
While there are strict and tightening rules in place to control when and where slurry can be spread, there are ongoing reports of inappropriate spreading techniques and illegal spreading during the closed period.
Our muckraking investigation will find out the scale of the problem spreading and what authorities are doing to tackle it and support farmers to transition to lower impact spreading.
WHAT YOUR FUNDING SUPPORTS
Every year there are cases of illegal spreading. In 2021, for example, 21 farmers were sanctioned for illegal spreading during prohibited periods that year. We will request data from each local authority and the Department of Agriculture for annual cases of illegal spreading and find out if sufficient action was taken.
Ammonia is a potent greenhouse gas, impacting air quality and damaging peatlands and waterways. We will speak to health and nature experts to find out the scale of the human health and biodiversity impacts from slurry spreading and how to best tackle the problem.
Certain farmers with large cattle herds or involved in agri-environmental projects are obliged to use low emission spreading equipment. However, the majority of slurry is still applied via traditional methods according to the latest Teagasc data.
We will speak to farmers about what authorities need to do to better support a swift transition to lower emissions equipment.
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