Water management – is your farmyard fit for purpose?

Date published: 03 October 2019

As the days get shorter it is time to think of preparing farmyards for the winter time.

Dermot McAleese, BDG member and Northern Ireland Sheep Programme participant discussing water management options with CAFRE agri-environment adviser Mary Ann Alexander.

With a tendency to have wetter weather during the winter months it is important to think of how water is managed in and around the farmyard.

Northern Irish waterways can support a wide range of aquatic life including fish, plants and less visible aquatic invertebrates. In NI waters there are over 1,500 species of aquatic invertebrates. Pollution of waterways greatly reduces the habitats where these species can survive. Agricultural pollution can have a big impact on the quality of our waterways. Most agricultural pollution incidents are due to slurry, silage effluent and uncollected dirty water entering waterways.

Dirty water is a low dry matter effluent made up from water contaminated by manure, urine, and effluent, dairy washing or cleaning materials. All dirty water must be collected on the farm and disposed of properly. There are simple steps that will help to reduce the amount of dirty water in the yard.

Separate clean water from dirty water. Clean water from roofs or concrete running onto dirty concrete increases the volume of water that requires storage.

By maintaining gutters and downpipes you can substantially reduce the amount of dirty water on farm. This is a good time of year to check that all spoutings on sheds are up standard and replace or repair any that have come down.

Make sure that systems taking clean water away from the yard to drains or waterways are well sealed so there is no chance of dirty water and effluent entering them.

Make sure that all gullies are clear so that run off from bedded sheds and silage pits can freely run into collection tanks without overflowing onto the yard.

Making sure that drinkers and water pipes on the farm are not leaking and are protected from frost. Leaking drinkers can also add to the amount of water used on farm, increasing costs and increase the chance of overflow onto the yard. Protecting pipes from frost will help to reduce the risk of burst pipes during cold weather.

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