Inland Fisheries Ireland has issued an appeal to farmers to remain vigilant during the fertiliser spreading season to avoid water pollution and the loss of nutrients or other chemicals into rivers, lakes and other watercourses.
The appeal comes on the back of Inland Fisheries Ireland’s preliminary collation of fish kill data for 2019 which indicate that 20 fish kills were recorded nationally (a welcome reduction when compared with 40 fish kills in 2018). Inland Fisheries Ireland is also emphasising the significance of the EPA’s recent report on water quality in Ireland (for the period 2013 to 2018) which found that there has been an overall decline in surface water quality, especially in our rivers, for the period. This report identified nutrient pollution (primarily nitrogen and phosphorus) as the main problem impacting on our waters.
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 (www.agriculture.gov.ie) which advises as follows:
- 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 hours (you must check the forecasts from Met Éireann).
- 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.
Farmers can get more information about these 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 http://www.agriculture.gov.ie.
Inland Fisheries Ireland has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents of water pollution, fish kills and illegal fishing – 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. For more information on Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie.