Environment/Agriculture/Land Spreading

It should be noted that under the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017, the application of fertilisers to land is STRICTLY PROHIBITED as below:

Fertiliser TypeProhibited between
Chemical Fertiliser15th September - 12th January
Organic Fertiliser15th October - 12th January
Farmyard Manure1st November - 12th January

This is a legal requirement, which for non-compliance a person shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up to €3,000.


The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 commonly referred to as the “Nitrates Regulations” or “GAP Regulations” give legal effect to Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme.

Local Authorities are responsible for enforcing the GAP Regulations.

The Slurry Spreading Calendar

Slurry cannot be spread on land in Offaly from 15th October to January 12th (Closed period).

Closed periods are a feature of the Directive in all Member States. The closed periods in Ireland were decided following a period of extensive public consultation and were agreed with farming bodies and the European Commission.

All land spreading activity is conditional on weather and ground conditions being suitable.  Livestock manures or any chemical fertilisers should not be applied to land when it is waterlogged, flooded or likely to flood, frozen or if heavy rain is forecasted within 48 hours.

Slurry Spreading Requirements (extract from the Nitrates Explanatory Booklet on www.agriculture.gov.ie

Pre-cautions must be taken when you are applying fertilizers:

In order to prevent waters from being polluted by nitrogen and phosphorus, the Regulations require that you must do the following:

  • You must spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, effluents and soiled water as accurately and as evenly as you can.
  • You must not use an upward-facing splash plate or sludge irrigator on a tanker or umbilical system for spreading organic fertiliser or soiled water.
  • You must not spread organic fertilisers or soiled water from a road or passageway, even if the road or passageway is on your own holding.
  • You must not spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure, soiled water or other organic fertilisers when:
  1. The land is waterlogged;
  2. The land is flooded, or it is likely to flood;
  3. The land is frozen, or covered with snow;
  4. Heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours (you must check the forecasts from Met Éireann).
  5. The ground slopes steeply and there is a risk of water pollution, when factors such as surface run-off pathways, the presence of land drains, the absence of hedgerows to mitigate surface flow, soil condition and ground cover are taken into account.

 Buffer Zones:


You must not spread chemical fertiliser on land within 2 metres of a surface watercourse.

The following list shows the different buffer zones for different kinds of water bodies (lakes, rivers, wells etc.). You must not spread soiled water, effluents, farmyard manures or other organic fertilisers inside these buffer zones.

Buffer zones for spreading organic fertilisers

  • Any water supply source providing 100m3 or more of water per day, or serving 500 or more people | 200 metres (or as little as 30 metres where a local authority allows) | Note 1
  • Any water supply source providing 10m3 or more of water per day, or serving 50 or more people | 100 metres (or as little as 30 metres where a local authority allows) | Note 1
  • Any other water supply for human consumption | 25 metres (or as little as 15 metres where a local authority allows) | Note 1
  • Lake shoreline | 20 metres
  • Exposed cavernous or karstified limestone features (such as swallow holes and collapse features) | 15 metres
  • Any surface watercourse where the slope towards the watercourse exceeds 10% | 10 metres
  • Any other surface waters | 5 metres | Note 2


Any perceived breaches within their catchment should be brought to their immediate attention. 


Note 1: Contact Offaly County Council for further details of buffer zones that apply around public water supplies.Note 2: The 5 metre buffer zone is increased to 10 metres for a period of two weeks preceding and two weeks following the periods when application of fertilisers to land is prohibited as set out in Schedule 4 of the Regulations. The objective of increased setback distances at the shoulders of the closed period is to help retain as much of the applied nutrient in the field as possible thereby reducing its risk of loss through overland flow.