In the spring I wrote an article on constructed farm wetlands and the potential role they could play in increasing effective slurry storage. Now, more than halfway through summer, it’s fair to say a lot of us could be doing with more water in our lives and on our farms. SAC Consulting, through the Farm Advisory Service (FAS) has been involved in the development and delivery of a range of meetings and other materials over the years on the water environment, and with drier summers I felt it was worthwhile looking at some of the content already covered and teeing up some exciting things coming down the line.
It’s no secret that the dairy sector produces a lot of slurry, and that slurry presents challenges for the water environment. As a result, we’ve seen recent policy changes reflect the need for the sector to think even more strategically about how we mitigate our impact, both in terms of climate change and land management more broadly. There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about the amount of water lost in the system from leakage and in Scotland, Scottish Water calculates it is roughly 463 million litres per day. This is a massive amount and so it is all the more important that water is kept clean and flowing where possible.
Over the years FAS has had a number of one-off videos and advice notes but some of the best examples of content around the water environment have come from their past series “Water Margin Management in a Changing Climate”. Here we covered topics like the ecological function of the water environment and mitigation of damage to water margins, installation of alternative watering and other practical management ideas – https://www.fas.scot/environment/water-management/water-margins-2/. Another influential series was the Farming & Water Scotland series “Managing Slurry for Folks in a Hurry” looking at some of the changes now in place and the transition to precision application as standard practice and how we better value our slurry – https://www.farmingandwaterscotland.org/livestock-arable/livestock-slurry-based-systems/managing-slurry-for-folks-in-a-hurry-webinar-series/.
Elsewhere in FAS we produced several podcasts covering water, making reductions in diffuse pollution and the environment. SEPA officer Stephen Field joined FAS for a podcast discussion on wet weather contingency planning and how to cut clean water from the system, and in one of our most recent episodes of “Thrill of the Hill” we sat down with the Ayrshire Rivers Trust to discuss water margin management and how to take positive actions for water quality – https://www.fas.scot/publication/thrill-of-the-hill-spawning-success/.
In terms of what is coming up, the “Taking the Plunge” series has its second on farm meeting shortly, (date and venue to be confirmed) where we will be joined by Stephen Field and Adrian Jones for a discussion on constructed farm wetlands. In addition to this, a range of videos are planned for release over the autumn, looking at issues of water scarcity, mitigation and irrigation as well as a video update on the changes brought in by the new amendments made to the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 – https://www.farmingandwaterscotland.org/know-the-rules/new-general-binding-rules-on-silage-and-slurry-whats-changed/
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