Are you aware of best practice measures to protect water quality?
Exceedances in pesticides are on the increase across certain counties and while there is no threat to public health, it is imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.
Irish Water working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG) is appealing to farmers and other users of pesticides to ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking water quality are always followed.
All of the key stakeholders are represented in this group and include other Government departments and agencies; local authorities; industry representative bodies; farming organisations; water sector organisations; and amenity sector organisations.
Commenting on this, Andy Boylan, Irish Water’s regional drinking water compliance specialist, said: “Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland.
“Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority. In Ireland, the majority [82%] of drinking water supplies come from surface water sources [water from rivers, lakes and streams].
“Such supplies are vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off.”
Dr. Aidan Moody, chair of the NPDWAG, commented: “The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to tackle this issue.
Users of pesticides should make sure that they are aware of the best practice measures that should be followed to protect water quality.
MCPA, which is commonly used to kill rushes on wet land, is the main offender. Careless storage, handling or improper application means it can easily end up in drinking water leading to breaches of the drinking water regulations.
The regulations are so stringent that a single drop of pesticide is enough to breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30km. This clearly highlights the level of care needed to protect drinking water sources.
Irish Water working in partnership with the NPDWAG would like to remind farmers and professional users of pesticides of the need to follow best practice in the application of pesticides such as MCPA on land, particularly near lakes and rivers used as drinking water sources.
The basic steps in reducing pesticide risks are:
- Choose the right pesticide product – note that products containing MCPA are not approved for use in weed-wipers;
- Read and follow the product label;
- Determine the right amount to purchase and use;
- Don’t spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours;
- Make sure you are aware of the location of all nearby water courses;
- Comply with any buffer zone specified on the product label to protect the aquatic environment. Mark out the specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other water course;
- Never fill a sprayer directly from a water course or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a water course;
- Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers three times into the sprayer;
- Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.
Below is a recently produced video on the correct use of MCPA by Irish Water.
Information leaflets on pesticide use are also available to download from the Teagasc website at: www.teagasc.ie.
The Fertilizer Association of Ireland
Advice to help alleviate the current fodder crisis of spring 2018
With air and soil temperatures recovering and soils beginning to dry out it is time to focus on
fertiliser to maximise grass growth and reduce the burden on purchased fodder and concentrates.
Growth rates have been very poor over the past weeks and we can expect some compensatory
growth to occur as conditions improve. Planning your fertiliser programme is essential to maximise
this growth. Fertiliser provides an excellent return on investment.
All advice below is subject to Soil test results, Nutrient Management Plan & Crop Offtake.
1. Do I need to use an NPK compound or straight N?
Best practice is to use a NPK/High N compounds early in the grazing season especially where
no slurry was applied.
2. What level of Nitrogen do I need to apply this month?
3. Should I be using CAN or Urea?
Both are equally effective as an N source. Urea will work well in current damp conditions.
However as soils dry out urea can be exposed to volatilisation. Use CAN or protected Urea as
the N source in these conditions.
4. When are soil conditions suitable for fertiliser application?
If machinery is marking/tracking ground then soil conditions are not suitable. Select dry
fields to apply fertiliser. Avoid application if heavy rainfall is forecast in the next 24-48 hours.
5. I did not get slurry out this spring, is it now too late?
Where grass has not been grazed slurry will cause contamination to the sward. Graze these
swards and then apply a light coat of slurry. Slurry is best retained for silage ground.
6. I have fertiliser out but have had heavy rain in the last 2 weeks, do I need to re-apply?
Monitor these swards over the next week as growth picks up. If they seem lacking in
nutrition an additional application may be required.
7. I have poached paddocks, how will I get them to recover quickly?
At soil index 1 and 2 (where permitted under nitrates) spread up to 5 units of P/acre to
promote root development and tiller sward. If cases of severe poaching consider over
8. Spring application of potash?
High applications of Potash K under current conditions should be avoided due to the risk of
grass tetany. More K can be applied later in the season as the weather warms up and the
risk will be reduced.
9. Is sulphur of any benefit to me this early in the season?
Yes Sulphur will increase N efficiency, boost yields and increase grass proteins. Aim for a
little and often approach for sulphur. 16 Units/acre over the grazing season.
It is imperative that actions are taken not to compromise quality and quantity
of next winter’s winter fodder.
• Silage ground needs to be closed by the middle of April and cut by the end of May to
• Each week late in cutting silage after heading out date will decrease DMD by 7 units
and delay second cut by 2 weeks.
1. What level of Nitrogen do I need for 1st cut silage?
Advice is to use 80 units for permanent pasture and 90 Units for reseeds
Generally allow 2 units/day from application date to cutting date.
2. Should I delay cutting to increase volume?
For quality silage harvest crop in late May. Grass will seed/shoot-out between 20th and 25th
3. How will I increase silage made this summer to replenish my reserves?
Aim to increase volume in second and subsequent cuts. Also maximise bales taken from
paddocks during the grazing season.
4. Is it too late for slurry on silage ground?
If there is a cover of grass then slurry application will contaminate the grass unless spread
with a trailing shoe/injected.
5. What level of P and K do I need for 1st cut?
P requirement is 16 units/acre. K requirement is 100 units/acre. Reduce accordingly for
earlier applications of slurry and/or chemical P K applications. If no chemical K or slurry has
been applied reduce K to 60/70 units to avoid luxury uptake of Potash.
6. Silage ground has not been grazed, what should I do?
Leave it closed up and fertilise as soon as possible and go for an early harvest date.
7. Do I need sulphur?
Yes Sulphur should be applied up to 20 units/acre/for each cut. It will increase grass protein
and increase nitrogen efficiency.
1. When is the best time to apply lime?
Lime can be spread at any time once ground conditions allow, however care must be taken
to avoid contamination of grass. Where the risk of contamination to grass occurs use
Granulated Lime as a short term solution as soon as possible and plan a bulk ground
limestone programme later in the season.
Lime is essential to maximise the returns from fertiliser as shown in the graph below.
Raising soil pH from 5.5 to 6.5 will increase the efficiency of fertiliser by >25%.
Lime will deliver a return on investment of 7:1
2. Can I spread urea after bulk lime application?
Do not apply Urea within 3-6 months of bulk lime application.
3. Can I spread fertiliser after slurry application?
Maintain a 1 week interval between slurry and fertiliser application.