Re-opening following the prohibited period for landspreading

Organic fertiliser (slurry) can be applied to the land from the 1st of February 2023 onwards in County Cavan provided that the ground conditions and the weather forecast are suitable.  

When applying organic fertiliser or soiled water, remember to leave a buffer zone distance as follows:   

  • 200 metres of an abstraction point for a water scheme which supplies 100m³ or more of water per day or 500 or more persons. 
  • 100 metres of an abstraction point for a water scheme which supplies 10m³ or more of water per day or serves 50 or more persons. 
  • 25 metres of an abstraction point not specified in 1 or 2 above. 
  • 20 metres of a lake shore. 
  • 15 metres of exposed cavernous or karstified limestone features. 
  • Five metres of surface watercourse. This distance is 10 metres for a period of two weeks preceding and two weeks following the periods when application of fertilisers to land is prohibited. 

Spring is the time of the year that most slurry spreading should take place. Slurry is a valuable source of nutrients for plant growth and if used efficiently can reduce the need for artificial fertilisers. Nutrients can damage our environment if not managed correctly, for example, Phosphorus within the slurry can be washed into waterbodies causing eutrophication or nitrogen can be lost through gaseous emissions. 

Slurry should only be applied when soil temperatures are above six degrees and ground conditions and the weather forecast are suitable. Avoidspreading slurry if the ground is frozen, water-logged or if heavy rain is forecast. It is important that the applied slurry gets down to the roots of plants such as grass in the growing season, preferably bare fields, or fields with low grass cover. On very heavy land it may be necessary to delay spreading until after the first cut silage. Extra slurry storage allows more flexibility on spreading times, particularly in a very wet spring. 

Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) equipment must be used to apply all pig slurry and all slurry from all farmers operating above 150kg Nitrogen/hectare from 2023 onwards. Spreading slurry with a trailing shoe, dribble bar or injector system can reduce the ammonia emissions, increase nitrogen value, reduce odours, and grass contamination while allowing more flexibility regarding spreading time.  

Some contractors are using the umbilical (pipe) systems to pump the slurry from the yard to the tractor mounted unit. This system is particularly high risk to water quality if used incorrectly, as it allows slurry to be spread when a slurry tanker wouldn’t be able to travel on land due to ground conditions. While this system does reduce soil compaction, it should not be used on saturated soils as it would pose a risk to local water quality. 

For further information on the Nitrates Regulations or any other queries you may have regarding protecting water quality, please contact the Environment Section of Cavan County Council on 049 437 8486 or alternatively email