With slurry tanks already nearing capacity following a wet summer and autumn, many farmers are eagerly anticipating the start of the slurry spreading season.

The slurry ban closed period is set to end in Northern Ireland on the last day of January. It's 19 days later than some other parts of the island, making the nine Ulster counties - plus Cavan - the last area of the island able to spread.

The Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) aims to protect water quality by protecting our rivers, lakes and groundwater from nutrient pollution coming from agricultural sources.

Here's a quick reminder of this year's important dates for Northern Ireland farmers so you can plan ahead for the next 12 months.

A year in slurry

January 31: The deadline for non-derogated farms to submit records of any exported organic manures for the previous calendar year using the online system.

Midnight, January 31: End of closed period for spreading all fertiliser and manure in Northern Ireland.

March 1: Deadline for derogated farmers to:

  • Submit derogation application using the online system;
  • Complete fertilisation plan (held on-farm for inspection);
  • Submit fertilisation account for the previous calendar year, which will include exported organic manures, using the online system.

June 30: Deadline to complete records for the period January 1 to December 31 the previous year.

Autumn: After harvesting any crops until January 15 the following year the stubble must be retained in the land, or the land sown with a crop which will take up the nitrogen from the soil.

Where soil or weather conditions prevent a subsequent crop from being sown, appropriate measures must be put in place to limit soil erosion.

Midnight, September 15: Start of closed period for spreading chemical N and P fertiliser to grassland, along with any chemical fertiliser to any land for crops other than grass unless there is a demonstrable crop requirement.

Midnight, October 15: Start of closed period for spreading any organic manure apart from farmyard manure and dirty water to any land.

Start of closed period for all types of organic manure (including farmyard manure and dirty water) to a derogated holding, if the fertilisation plan indicates a proposal to disturb the soil as part of grass cultivation.

Start of closed period for spreading farmyard manure to any land.

The following only applies to field storage of poultry litter: Before field storage of poultry litter, obtain prior authorisation from NIEA on: 028-9262-3280.