Smart Farming

SmartFarming: Slurry & Fertiliser Spreading 

Changes in prohibited periods from 2023

  • Under the Nitrates Action Programme, Ireland is divided into three zones (A, B and C) based on soil type, rainfall and length of growing season. 
  • Farmers in zone C (Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan) should note that slurry or farmyard manure cannot be spread until 31st January.
Figure 1. Zone Derogation

The prohibited period for organic fertilisers starts 1st October for each zone from 2023 onwards

Table 1. Storage periods for cattle manure & the prohibited periods for spreading fertilisers.

Spreading Conditions 

  • You must not spread slurry, chemical fertilisers, manure or soiled water when:
  • Land is waterlogged.
  • Land is flooded, or it is likely to flood.
  • Land is frozen or covered with snow.
  • Heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours (check forecasts from Met Éireann).
  • The ground slopes steeply and there is a risk of water pollution.

Buffer Zones

  • A buffer zone is a no spread area used to protect water by taking up excess nutrients before they can reach the water.
  • You must not spread chemical fertiliser on land within 2 metres of a surface watercourse.
  • Soiled water, effluents, farmyard manures or other organic fertilisers must not be spread within buffer zones.

The following table shows buffer zones for different water bodies. 

Table 2. Buffer zones for spreading organic fertilisers.

The 5-metre buffer zone for surface waters increases to 10 metres for the first two and last two weeks of the permitted spreading season. This is to reduce the risk of loss through overland flow.

Click here for more information on the regulations on fertiliser and slurry application and the Nitrates Action Programme.

Smart Farming is a voluntary resource efficiency programme, run by the Irish Farmers’ Association in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information on the Smart Farming programme visit

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