Inland Fisheries Ireland has appealed to Wexford farmers to help protect Ireland’s rivers and lakes from agricultural pollution during the silage season.
Livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, silage effluent, and soiled water are highly damaging substances, and on entering a watercourse can kill fish and severely impact their habitats.
Commenting on the new appeal, Barry Fox Head of Operations at Inland Fisheries Ireland(IFI) said: “We continue to secure successful convictions for agricultural pollution of waters, and breaches of legislation. We encourage farmers to work with IFI, and other statutory agencies, to prevent water pollution incidents from occurring.
“We ask farmers to take all possible precautionary measures over the current silage season to stop any harmful run-off flowing into Irish rivers, lakes, streams or the sea, over the summer months.
“Agricultural pollutants can cause an increase in excessive nutrients which drastically reduce oxygen content in the water and create fish kills. When rivers are at a low level in summertime, even a small leak can cause huge damage. Maintenance of silage pits and slurry storage facilities is essential to ensure that accidents don’t happen.”
IFI is advising farmers to follow its six-point SILAGE plan for optimum silage and slurry spreading etiquette to reduce the risk of polluting rivers and lakes:
S. Spread slurry during dry weather only, and never when a period of heavy rain is forecast.
I. Investigate if silage pits are properly sealed to prevent the entry of water, and/or if there is leakage from underneath the slabs.
L. Lead slurry away from a watercourse when working the land. Be aware of the slope of the field, and respect the buffer zones near a river, lake, stream or shoreline.
A. Avoid cleaning slurry tankers/spreading equipment close to a stream, river or lake.
G. Generate good yard cleaning hygiene – to curb effluent and soiled washings from inadvertently flowing to a watercourse
E. Engage with the statutory requirements by ensuring that adequate storage capacity for slurry, soiled water, and silage effluent, meet the regulations.
Farmers are asked to contact their local IFI office before carrying out works in or near any watercourses.
In 2022, IFI staff carried out 1,986 inspections in agricultural settings to help identify environmental risks, and prevent damage to the local aquatic environment and valuable fish populations.
IFI, the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats, reminds farmers and members of the public they can report instances of pollution, fish kills or illegal fishing nationwide by calling its confidential 24/7 number, 0818 34 74 24.