EPA: Contractors don’t need abstraction licenses for slurry

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that farm contractors do not need a water abstraction licence for diluting slurry.

The clarification has been welcomed by the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI), who sought the clarification itself.

The EPA has recently launched a register of water abstraction, whereby farmers who take 25,000L of water per day from rivers or streams are required to register with the agency, at which point an abstraction licence is issued to them.

The confirmation that contractors will not require an abstraction licence comes as a relief, claims the FCI.

This dilution requirement is especially necessary when the farm contractor is spreading the slurry using low emission slurry spreading machinery, such as trailing shoes, injectors or dribble bar systems.

“These machines are very prone to blockages from the Irish animal slurries, which typically contain significant amounts of silage/hay from bale silage feeding systems,” said Richard White, national chairman of the FCI.

“These more expensive, low-emission, slurry spreading machines, which many contractors have invested in, all require the slurry to be more dilute than with splash plate spreading systems, in order to prevent time consuming machine blockages in the field,” added White.

The FCI points out that the typical capacity of a contractor’s slurry tank is 11,250L, just under half of the EPA’s limit of 25,000L per day. However, the FCI claims that, after conducting research, adequate dilution typically requires significantly more water than that.

The group says that registering for a licence would be time-consuming and would be an extra burden on contractors who have already invested in low-emission spreading devices.

The EPA confirmed that farmers who abstract water for other purposes, such as irrigation and drinking water for animals, will still be required to register for a licence if they exceed the limit.