Tuesday, 25 March 2014

All you need to know about biobeds

This was the title for the final workshop of this series of three which has taken place at the Allerton Project, organised by Jim Egan, with funding from the Welland Valley Partnership and support from The Campaign for the Farmed Environment. The workshop was led by Andrew Down, a Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer with Natural England and there was a visit to the Allerton Project's own biobed which Farm Manager Phil Jarvis and team are currently building – see some pictures on his blog.

The most important step is planning what you are going to do. Looking at the overall spaying/farm yard operation is a great starting point as many farmers could use this as an opportunity to make the farmyard more efficient as well as more environmentally friendly. 
Visiting farmers discuss the Allerton Project biobed
The first decision is whether you want a biobed or a bio-filter.  If you have a covered sprayer filling area you should be looking at a bio-filter, and if you are working on an outdoor operating system then it’s a biobed that you need.  We discussed everything from permits and exemptions through to construction and costs.

If most farmers took a long hard look at how they currently operate they’ll see there are a range of environmental risks and a number of inefficient steps in the whole spraying operation.  An investment in new infrastructure might be the best way forward and hopefully this workshop helped to give some ideas as to where to start.

Forty percent of pesticides in watercourses comes from farmyards with between 60 and 100% of that coming from foil seals and tractor washings! Andrew also reminded us all that for a single pesticide the limit in drinking water is 1 part per billion which equates to 1 drop in an Olympic sized swimming pool, or just one slug pellet in a 100 metre length of ditch.  If we want to keep the chemicals we have, better managed sprayer filling systems and a biobed or bio-filter are worth considering.

1 comment: