MCPA in 80% of drinking water pesticide contaminations
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called for a national pesticides strategy as multiple water supplies continue to exceed maximum residue standards.

The EPA new annual report on drinking water quality shows that 48 water supplies failed to meet standards for maximum pesticide residues at least once in 2017. This represents four more incidents than in 2016 and confirms the upward trend observed in the past six years.

Of these, four supplies showed "persistent failures" in Listowel, Co Kerry; Kilkenny city; Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick; and Longford central.

The EPA reported that Irish Water was investigating pesticides in 53 supplies serving over 660,000 people at the end of last year, down from 63 supplies affecting 900,000 at the end of 2016.

Almost 80% of all failures detected are of the herbicide MCPA

"Almost 80% of all failures detected are of the herbicide MCPA, commonly used to control rushes in grassland," the EPA found.

The overall increase in the number of drinking water quality failures in 2017 "was mainly due to an increase in the number of pesticide failures," the agency added.

Raising awareness

The National Pesticide and Drinking Water Action Group, led by the Department of Agriculture with representatives from Irish Water, local authorities, the farming community and pesticide manufacturers and suppliers, currently supports raising awareness in areas affected, including communicating responsible pesticide use to farmers through local media.

"However, a national pesticides strategy should be developed to include the actions that are to be taken, when communicating and working with pesticide users does not resolve the problem," the EPA warned.

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3,200-year-old cheese discovered in ancient Egyptian tomb
Scientists have been able to identify a previously unknown material found in a tomb in Egypt as cheese, that was made from sheep or goat milk.

Scientists have discovered what they believe to be the oldest-ever sample of cheese in an ancient Egyptian tomb. The discovery, made by a research team based in the Peking University in China, was published by the Analytical Chemistry journal.

Found in a jar within the tomb, the previously unidentified material has now been named as a dairy product obtained by mixing sheep/goat and cow milk. Using biomolecular techniques, the researchers were able to detect the presence of certain peptides, in this case ones that are specific to cheese.

Also detected in the sample was the presence of Brucella melitensis. This is the main cause of brucellosis in humans, and represents a natural pathogen for sheep and goats. Previous to this there have only been indirect signs that the disease was prevalent in ancient Egypt, but the discovery represents the first direct sign.

High-ranking official

The cheese was discovered in the tomb of Ptahmes. He was mayor of Memphis and high-ranking official under Pharaohs Sethi I and Ramses II from 1290 BC to 1213 BC. His tomb was originally unearthed in 1885, but was lost under shifting sands at the end of the 19th century, before reappearing in 2010.

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Listen: "The looming fodder crisis could be a major stressor"
Former rugby international Tony Buckley speaks about his fears for the farm community as fodder concerns grow, at a forum at Cappamore Show.

A large crowd of over 100 people came to hear former rugby international Tony Buckley speak about his troubles with depression at a specially organised forum on mental health and fodder at Cappamore Show on Saturday 18 August.

Buckley spoke frankly about his own issues with mental health even at the height of his rugby career and urged farmers to ask for health if they felt they were struggling to cope.

“I think the looming fodder crisis could be a major stressor for people,” Buckley said.

“You can say you’ll be grand, I’ll be fine, I’m not soft, but once a major stressor hits you won’t get away from it.”

“When push came to shove I had to confide in a doctor and since the day I opened up to him everything has turned around.”

Buckley spoke about “bottling up” emotions and highlighted the fact that it can often be harder for men to admit that they have a mental health problem and ask for help.

“If you are struggling go to your GP, they won’t judge you they’ll just help you as a person and it’s confidential.”

He also emphasised the need for more support for mental health services and openly criticised the current lack of funding in facilities in Ireland.

“Every year in Ireland you’ve 520 suicides and that every year you’ve 520 families devastated by loss,” Buckley said.

Stigma

The panel of speakers at the event also included Minister Michael Creed, Dairygold Co-op CEO Jim Woulfe, IFA president Joe Healy and Teagasc director Gerry Boyle.

Minister Creed said that while him and his Department “could not fix the weather” they were working with the European Commission on ensuring a number of flexibilities were secured for farmers around schemes.

It is really important that we remove the stigma around mental health

He also urged farmers to take stock if they were struggling and not be afraid to ask for help if they were struggling physically or mentally.

“A farmer’s first duty of care is to himself,” Minister Creed said.

“It’s been a difficult year, we had a long winter with a late spring and only about six weeks of normality and the last two months of virtual drought.”

“It is really important that we remove the stigma around mental health.”

Jim Woulfe and Gerry Boyle urged farmers to make use of facilities to undertake a fodder budget, with Woulfe assuring farmers worried about finances or credit that they would be catered for by the co-op.

President of the IFA Joe Healy, while welcoming the recent fertiliser and slurry spreading extension, called on Minister Creed to understand that it was not just a fodder but a financial crisis.

He stated that a fodder import scheme and low-cost loans needed to be rolled out as soon as possible.

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Gardaí investigating fire in Galway which destroyed 300 bales
The shed was set on fire on the evening of 16 August in Corrandulla in Galway.

Gardaí are investigating after a shed with 300 bales of hay was set on fire in Corrandulla, Co Galway, on 16 August.

The incident happened in the evening time and gardaí are investigating it as an incident of criminal damage by fire.

A number of fire brigade units attended the fire and brought the blaze under control.

Enquiries are continuing into the fire, a Garda spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

Anyone with information about the fire has been asked to contact Loughgeorge or Millstreet garda stations at 091-538 000.