September 1, 2020

Shoes can reduce fertiliser and smell!

Robert Martin, a dairy farmer from Kilkeel, says “I have been using a trailing shoe system for 5 years on my 160 cow dairy unit. I am getting better nutrient uptake using the system with the result that I can reduce chemical fertiliser use in my 3 cut silage system.”

Brian Finch, an Environmental Adviser with CAFRE writes “Research indicates up to 25% increase in grass yields can be achieved using the trailing shoe as compared the the splash plate. The other big advantage Robert has found is the reduction in odour after spreading. “My neighbours really appreciate,” stated Robert.


Environmental benefit

Brian Finch continued “Trailing shoes are one method of Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESSE). This also includes trailing hose (dribble bar) and shallow injection methods. All LESSE systems place the slurry or digestate onto or into the ground, thereby reducing risk of nutrient runoff to waterways and nitrogen loss to the air as ammonia by up to 60% compared to splash plate. LESSE systems can play an important role in reducing ammonia emissions and improving water quality in Northern Ireland.  This is especially important with water and air quality a key environmental issue for farming.”


Brian Finch added “The big advantage of the trailing shoe over the trailing hose is being able to spread on higher grass covers, as the system works by parting the grass and appling the slurry at ground level. This reduces the risk of grass contamination especially in later cuts during dry weather.  Robert spreads all his slurry with a 2500 gallon tanker which came fitted with the trailing shoe system. During the 5 years he has been using the system, he hasn’t experienced any problems such as the macerator clogging or replacing worn parts. He does find some drag when spreading and the tanker is slightly slower to empty compared to the splash plate”. Robert adds “these issues do not outweigh the many advantages. My only advice to any farmer considering using it, is to have the slurry well diluted and mixed before spreading to get an even flow rate.”

NAP Changes

The use of LESSE is included in the most recent changes to Nutrients Action Programme Regulations (NI) 2019.  From this year all digestate has to spread using LESSE and all derogated farms from 15th June to 15 October each year, contractors from 2021 and all large pig units / livestock farms with 200LU or more from 2022.  Note: If using LESSE, distance from waterways can be reduced to 3m.

Grant Aid

It is likely that DAERA will incentivise the purchase of LESSE equiment through the provision of grant aid to farmers. Further detail will be released in the press if this becomes available.


Brian Finch concluded “using LESSE has many benefits such as increasing slurry nutrient value, reducing ammonia emissions, nutrient runoff and the smell. A win-win for the environment, your pocket and your neighbours!”

Back to News & Events