Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has issued advice to farmers on ensuring compliance with water pollution regulations ahead of the silage season.

Slurry, silage effluent and soiled water all have the potential to kill fish if they enter waterways, IFI warned farmers.

The agency’s head of operations Barry Fox stated that IFI can secure convictions against those who fall short of the regulatory requirements when it comes to protecting waterways.

It carried out 1,986 farm inspections last year.

“We continue to secure successful convictions for agricultural pollution of waters and breaches of legislation,” Fox said.

“We encourage farmers to work with IFI, and other statutory agencies, to prevent water pollution incidents from occurring.”

Water quality can be harder to safeguard over the summer months, as, when the level of rivers fall, “even a small leak can cause huge damage”.

“Maintenance of silage pits and slurry storage facilities is essential to ensure that accidents don’t happen.”

Six-point plan

The agency created a six-point 'silage' plan for farmers to reduce pollution risks over the silage season.

S - Spread slurry during dry weather only and never when a period of heavy rain is forecast.

I - Investigate if silage pits are properly sealed to prevent the entry of water, and/or if there is leakage from underneath the slabs.

L - Lead slurry away from watercourses when working the land.

A - Avoid cleaning slurry tankers close to waterways.

G - Generate good yard cleaning hygiene to prevent effluent and soiled water from inadvertently flowing to a watercourse.

E - Engage with the legal requirements on slurry storage capacity, soiled water and silage effluent.