Farmers encouraged to install sprayer washdown areas to reduce the risk of pesticide pollution

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Up to 40% of pesticide detections at Severn Trent treatment plants are believed to come from water contamination during the handling of pesticides.

However, Severn Trent’s catchment scientist Dr Adam Freer says installing a sprayer washdown area can almost eliminate this problem.

“A washdown area that provides a covered, bunded space to manage washings and wastes can also make the yard environment far more practical for farmers to manage, especially over the winter,” adds Dr Freer.

He encouraged farmers to consider investing in a sprayer washdown area for 2023 and outlined three reasons why it makes good business sense for them to do so.

Improved farm efficiency

The installation of a pesticide washdown area can drive improvements in both business efficiency and farm safety, says Dr Freer

“The provision of a space which is clean to store and work on your sprayer, and even incorporate a pesticide store, can help save on labour; it also makes for a much more comfortable working environment,” adds Dr Freer.

“Pesticide handling areas and the associated treatment facilities, such as biofilters, are a good way of demonstrating your farm is serious about chemical and pollution management when undergoing audits and will ultimately reduce operator exposure -providing a safer working environment for your staff too.”

Additionally, the treated washings and water from rainwater harvesting equipment are preferable for mixing sprays, when compared to mains supply water, due to them having better pH values and being softer water.

You can create your own washdown area to suit the farm needs 

A typical sprayer washdown area will be bunded, with access ramps, drainage that has a sediment trap, a pesticide washing storage tank, and either a biofilter or lined biobed to treat washings.

Dr Freer says farmers can also add on items such as a pesticide store and rainwater harvesting tanks, as well as choosing whether the area should be covered or not.

“By roofing your washdown area you minimise the amount of rainfall which would need to be collected and disposed of via a biobed, biofilter or evaporation unit,” he explains.

“This means less liquid is running through your treatment apparatus and filling up storage tanks, and a roof also provides a better working environment for sprayer operators.”

Severn Trent match funding is on offer until 31 January 2023

Despite the current challenging financial climate, Severn Trent has increased its STEPS match funding offer for washdown areas, with up to £30,000 on offer for new installations, to support farmers in meeting both financial and environmental targets.

Additionally, farmers who already have a sprayer washdown area are eligible for free rainwater harvesting equipment.

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