Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has appealed to farmers to be conscious of rivers, lakes and other watercourses during the fertiliser spreading season.
This comes on the back of IFI’s preliminary collation of fish kill data for 2019, which indicates that 20 fish kills were recorded nationally.
The conservation agency is also emphasising the significance of the EPA’s recent report on water quality in which found that there has been an overall decline in surface water quality, especially in our rivers.
This report identified nutrient pollution as the main problem impacting on our waters, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus.
To prevent waters from being polluted by nitrogen and phosphorus when land-spreading, Inland Fisheries Ireland is advising farmers to refer to Good Agricultural Practice Regulations guidance which advises the following:
- Spread livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, effluents and soiled water as accurately and as evenly as possible;
- Do not use an upward-facing splash plate or sludge irrigator on a tanker or umbilical system for spreading organic fertiliser or soiled water;
- Do not spread organic fertilisers or soiled water from a road or passageway, even if the road or passageway is on your own holding;
- Do not spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure, soiled water or other organic fertilisers when:
- The land is waterlogged;
- The land is flooded, or it is likely to flood;
- The land is frozen, or covered with snow;
- Heavy rain is forecast within 48.
- Do not spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure, soiled water or other organic fertilisers if the ground has a steep slope and if there is a significant risk of causing pollution;
- When you are deciding whether there is a risk, you must take into account how close you are to waters, what condition the soil is in, the ground cover and how much rainfall there is or how much rainfall is expected;
- Do not spread chemical fertiliser on land within 1.5 metres of a surface watercourse.
Dr Greg Forde, head of operations at Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “Livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, effluents and soiled water have the potential to cause devastating pollution in our streams and rivers.”
“Such effluent is a significant polluting and potentially highly toxic substance, starving fish and other aquatic life of oxygen and resulting in potentially severe fish kills over long distances if it enters a watercourse.”
“Impacts can be devastating at any time of year but are magnified in particular when river flows are reduced, and dilution capacity is at a minimum. The effect of even a small leak under these conditions can cause huge damage. Inland Fisheries Ireland is grateful to the farming community for their continued consideration and vigilance,” he concluded.
Farmers can get more information about specifications or related buffer zones for spreading organic fertilisers from their adviser/consultant, the local Department office or on the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine’s website.