In recent years, there has been an increased surge of interest in slurry additives, with several farmers turning their attention to these products to assist with easier-managed farming systems.
Despite the fact that these additives, also known as ‘slurry bugs’, are already known to be in existence for approximately forty years, they are becoming a popular choice on Irish farms.
A range of silage additives are readily available on the market already, which promotes the ability to enhance silage quality and minimise storage losses. These products are familiar to farmers at this stage, but in some cases slurry additives are unknown to the farmer.
Primarily, ease of management when agitating tanks is one of the main reasons for turning attention to the introduction of these slurry additives products to the farm.
Several independently-led scientific studies by companies and research have suggested that the additives in a substantial number of cases have proven their worth. Changing effects have been noted for physical properties, gaseous properties and effects on chemical properties.
With further work required in this area of research, there still are numerous stones left unturned regarding these products. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this area, with only a very limited amount of research available.
The activity of bugs results in a reduction in the quantity of gases produced during the process of agitation. The gas is provided with the opportunity to drift off naturally through production instead of at the point of agitation.
The environmentally friendly and biologically efficient approach has also been known to reduce odours and emissions with a reduced concentration of Hydrogen Sulphide and Ammonia gases, leaving an overall reduction in environmental pollution.
Working on the principle of microbial activity and proven to reduce and breakdown a fibrous crust formation, transforming the effluent nutrients into organic matter, these products have the ability to convert slurry into a more utilisable product, which is readily made available to the soil.
A uniform mixture is produced by merging the liquid, crust and solids components. This is known to make the slurry more biologically active making it easier to agitate, with less clumps.
Farmers appear to increase overall nutrient management and grass production on the farm through the use of these products.
Without hindering or affecting performance, the usage creates a reduction in chemical fertiliser costs, and allows for fast absorption along with increased grass growth and output.
Increased nutritional retention occurs, organically binding minerals and fixing Nitrogen, improving the overall nutritional value.
Farmers have noted reduced maintenance time and cost also.
One such example on the Irish market is claiming to save €45 per cow, based on a herd of 100 cattle on both dairy and beef enterprises.
The product ‘Slurry King Cattle’, a slurry conditioner comprising specially-selected naturally-occurring bacteria, involves adding the product the product to water, in specified amounts, and leaving it for approximate 30 minutes, with occasional stirs prior to addition to the tank. The product works on liquid slurry only, not on the crush. Up to 50% less time and a boast of up to 50% fertiliser value has been noted.