We’re continuing our series, “Managing trade effluent in…”, with the farming industry.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) recognises that the agri-food industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK. Hence, it is unsurprisingly one of the largest industries for water consumption and trade effluent. Let’s consider the different measures that can be implemented to help mitigate trade effluent levels in the farming industry.

Naturally, different types of farms will produce trade effluent through different farming operations. Whether you are a dairy, poultry or crop farmer, the organic matter produced via milk, crops, slurry and silage effluent are all endangering to waterways and therefore must be distributed responsibly. Any form of contaminated drainage and trade effluent must not be discharged into water systems, such as land drains or groundwater, unless you have a legally authorised effluent agreement.

Sheep dipping

This is one source of effluent from sheep farming. The effluent is a by-product of sheep dipping and is created by means of contaminated water. Sheep dipping is a process where farmers submerge sheep into a container with a chemical water source to prevent diseases. The contaminated water must be responsibly disposed to avoid further contamination. To reduce the effluent levels: use a diluted dip concentrate, keep freshly dipped sheep way from rivers and water sources, and continually check the dipping container for leaks or spills.

Reduce livestock contaminated water

All farm livestock will create contaminated water of some sort. Reduce the volume of contaminated water nearby the farm steading by keeping livestock in one controlled area. This will help decrease the volume of water needing regulated, collected and spread across the farm. Remember to only spread slurry in dry weather conditions to prevent runoff into waterways. Spending less time distributing slurry means will reduce your water bill whilst saving time for other operations.

Silage treatment facilities

There are also regulations in place to manage wastewater. It is important that farmers dispose safely of silage effluent from livestock manure. Farms can install silage treatment facilities to better manage and minimise manure. The treatment technology converts the silage into compost and fertilisers that can be reused and applied to other areas on the farm. Not only does this help prevent effluent, but it is also environmentally beneficial and a cost effective by means of reducing spend on expensive chemical fertilisers.

Manage chemical fertiliser seepage

When farmers distribute pesticides, fertilisers and fine sediment chemicals onto crop fields they will encounter crop seepage. The chemicals are washed into the soil and potential nearby waterways that create effluent and diffuse pollution. Prevent chemicals entering water ways by obstructing or redirecting field pathways. For example, planting buffer strips beside water courses that will not be sprayed with pesticides. Another alternative is to limit the concentration of chemical fertilisers used of finding alternative substances will help neutralise soil pH levels and lessen effluent runoff into waterways. Collecting wastewater and reusing for irrigation purposes can also help to minimise runoff and lower your farms water bill.

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