Farmers urged to use best practice when spraying pesticides
Exceedances in pesticides have been detected in drinking water sources across the country, as a result Irish Water working in partnership with NPDWAG is appealing to farmers to follow the guidelines.

The efforts to reduce the incidence of these detections are being coordinated by the National Pesticide and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG). This group is chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. 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.

While there is no threat to public health, it is imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.

Commenting ahead of the 2018 spraying season, Dr Pat O’Sullivan, 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 per cent) 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.”

Water supplies across the country have seen the herbicide MCPA detected over the past two years, albeit mostly at very low levels. MCPA is used mainly for eradicating rushes, a problem for many years on Irish farms and one that looks like continuing for many more years. It is also found in other weed killer formulations used by gardeners and growers, so its use is quite widespread.

Adding to this, Dr Aidan Moody, Chair of 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, and careless storage, handling and improper application means it ends up in our drinking water leading to breaches of the drinking water regulations.

A single drop of pesticide can breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30 kilometres. This clearly highlights the potential risk facing many of Ireland’s drinking water sources.

Drinking water monitoring results for Ireland show that a number of pesticides commonly used on grassland, such as MCPA, are being detected more frequently.

Irish Water working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group 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
  • 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 3 times into the sprayer.
  • Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.
  • Information leaflets on pesticide use are also available to download from the Teagasc website.

    Improving your Oilseed Rape Harvest Management
    This season more than ever correct pre-harvest Roundup® Brands desiccation will be essential for growers.

    The winter and spring weather conditions have resulted in a range of pod maturities within the canopy. Increasingly growers have drilled hybrid varieties at lower seed rates, plants produce thicker stems and with the application of growth regulators and fungicides there is more moisture left in the plant at maturity.

    Desiccation with Roundup Brands will be the key to ensure more timely and reliable harvesting, fewer volunteers, savings in drying costs, and earlier entry to following crop.

    What are the main benefits of using Roundup Brands for harvest management?

    Far less troublesome combining – 91%

    Valuable extra weed control – 82%

    Less drying cost – 80%

    More reliable harvest timing – 76%

    The Timing Guide for Efficient Harvesting of Oilseed Rape

    Apply Roundup Brands when the crop moisture content of the Oilseed rape seeds is below 30%. This may be determined visually by following the 3 steps detailed below.

    1. Select an area of the crop which is representative of the field. Pick, at random, a total of 20 pods from the middle of the main raceme.

    2. Open each pod. If a colour change from green to brown is seen in at least two thirds of the seeds per pod in at least fifteen of the pods picked, the earliest correct stage for spraying has been reached. However, if approximately half the seeds have turned brown, the crop should be ready in 3 days, but repeat the procedure to check that the correct stage has been reached. NB. Spraying too early will lead to poor desiccation.

    3. Repeat the procedure in other areas of the crop to check assessment is applicable to the entire field. Spray within 4 days, unless the weather is very cool, then the window can be extended to 7 days.

    Harvesting – The statutory harvest interval is 14 days, up to 21 days may be necessary before combining .

    Weed stage – For effective control of weeds they must be healthy and actively growing. Weeds that have senesced or died back or are suffering from drought may not be as susceptible.

    For further advice on improving your harvest management visit https://www.monsanto-ag.co.uk/ireland/oilseed-rape-harvest-management/

    Saving money while reducing the workload
    “It definitely saves money, a healthy cow is a profitable cow. If you have to get the vet to clean out a cow it delays breeding, it delays everything.” Mike McCarthy is farming in Co. Limerick.

    Mike’s farm is naturally deficient in selenium and this needed careful attention each year.

    In 2013 a national Teagasc survey highlighted that dairy cows receive only 38% of their required selenium from grass. This reinforced earlier work which has shown that over 90% of grass and silage is either low or very low in selenium. Selenium is very important for a number of functions within the cow and has been shown to have a considerable effect on fertility, breeding and thrive.

    The McCarthys started using selenium in their fertiliser back in 2014. They were aware of a selenium deficiency on farm and had been blood sampling twice a year to keep an eye on it. Cows retaining cleanings was not uncommon on the farm and calves were often very lethargic when born. Since switching to using Gouldings selenium fertilisers Mike has almost forgotten they had a selenium deficiency. The selenium is taken up by grass and silage and is now fed throughout the year. “It’s in the diet, it’s there, without having to artificially replace it.” It is seldom now that a cow would retain cleanings and calves are much livelier when born. Mike has also cut out administering selenium injections to the herd.

    The easiest way to establish whether your farm has a selenium deficiency is to carry out a mineral scan on either grass or silage or to carry out a blood test on a number of animals. Cows require 0.30mg/kg of selenium in their diet so for grass and silage mineral scans, less than 0.16mg/kg can be considered low while less than 0.08mg/kg can be considered very low. The average selenium content in Ireland is 0.11mg/kg.

    Mike spreads 4 bags per acre of selenium fertiliser on grazing and silage ground. He usually starts his years application with Selenistart, the next product he uses then depends on soil fertility. Lower P + K sites receive Selenigraze while fields which receive slurry and have good soil fertility receive Selenigrass. Mike spreads Selenicut for silage ground.

    The Gouldings Selenium range also includes 18’s + Selenium as well as the products that Mike has been using, namely Selenistart (urea + selenium), Selenigrass (CAN + selenium), Selenigraze + Sulphur (24½-2½-5 + Sulphur + Selenium) and Selenicut (20-2-12 + Sulphur + Selenium). If you have any further queries on selenium and fertiliser please contact your local fertiliser stockist or Gouldings Fertilisers directly on 021-4911611