Minding our watercourses is essential…watch the buffer zones

A watercourse is not just what appears on your BPS map, according to James Caplis of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine who was speaking at a TOPPS course on water quality held this week at Teagasc Kildlaton College.

The event was one of three held across the country in areas where pesticide exceedances have been found in local water sources.

James started his talk with a fact that many people will have heard before, but one that is quite alarming.

A foil seal from a pesticide can is lined with enough chemicals to breach the 0.1microgram/L limit along 30km of a typical stream.

That gives a clear indication of how careful pesticide users need to be with these products.

If exceedances continue, rules will inevitably become stricter or the products consistently found in water supplies may be taken off the market.

Buffer zones are something that should be adhered to when spraying as they can help to significantly reduce the level of chemical reaching a water supply.

Buffer zones

A buffer zone is a no-spray strip of a specified minimum width between the edge of a water body and the edge of the treated area of a field.

Every product has a buffer zone size specified on its label. James explained that buffer zones apply to all types of surface water bodies such as streams, ponds, rivers and lakes.

A buffer zone should be applied to any running water facility on your farm, whether that be a marked water course or an unmarked watercourse.

Safeguard zones are ‘no-use’ zones and they apply to drinking water abstraction points. Safeguard zones cannot be adjusted.

Abstraction points

It is also essential to note that it is illegal to fill plant protection product (PPP) application equipment directly from a watercourse.

It is also illegal to load or handle PPPs beside a watercourse.