Farm Pollution Control
Prevention of water pollution is a high priority for any farm, but it is not always easy. Adequate storage of slurry and silage effluent is essential for returning nutrients to the land. However, low value, high volume yard and parlour washings can pose a problem. Constructed wetlands can be used as part of an overall farm pollution control approach to filter this wastewater and return it clean to local rivers and streams.
Yard runoff and wash water are not the only potential sources of pollution on farms. Runoff from fields can be high in nutrients from slurry and fertilisers; biocides from spraying; and silt from rain simply washing through the soil. Buffer zones can be designed to protect rivers and streams on your farm. This can help to improve water quality for fish and wildlife, as well as providing a significant measure of insurance against potential pollution incidents.
Field scale buffer zones can be planted with trees for a biofuel crop; with wetland plants for filtration in unused boggy corners; or can be made into planted drains and ponds for collecting field runoff and providing storage and settlement below steeply sloping fields where soil would otherwise wash directly to the adjacent stream. Even widening, damming and planting farm drains can help to maximise the retention of soil and contaminants within the water. Every small positive measure improves the overall water quality in the area.
Zero Discharge Willow Facilities are now being offered which can help to minimise yard pollution load as well as providing a short rotation biomass crop for fuel. These can be used to receive all of the yard runoff and provide 100% storage and/or evapotranspiration depending on the season. The Zero Discharge Willow Facilities page of the website offers more information on this approach.
If you want to explore ways to keep wells, rivers, streams and lakes on your farm as clean and healthy as they can possibly be, contact us to discuss your ideas and greatest aspirations.
In addition to farm-scale buffer zones on field margins, buffer zones can also take the form of wetland planting within drains and small stream channels to filter the water passing through them. Any work on streams requires careful design and implementation and liaison with the relevant government bodies. However open drains and stagnant ditches can be greatly enhanced by widening slightly to expose more water surface to the air, and by planting with a selection of wetland plants. Planning is generally not required for this work and it can lead to significant improvements in downstream water quality if carried out properly.
Willow buffer zones can also be used with care between percolation areas and sensitive watercourses to take up nitrates and phosphates. This work needs to be carefully planned to avoid clogging percolation pipes.
Contact us for more information on creating in-channel buffer zones to improve water quality in your local area.
© FH Wetland Systems, 2012