Growers urged to install washdown areas


19 December 2022
Match funding available in Severn Trent.

GROWERS in the Severn Trent area of the UK are being encouraged by a UK water supplier to install sprayer washdown areas to reduce the risk of pollution by pesticide spillages in farmyards, with match funding available as an incentive. 

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 growers to manage, especially over the winter,” he said.

The installation of a pesticide washdown area can drive improvements in both business efficiency and farm safety, he said.
“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,” said Adam.

“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, owing to them having better pH values and being softer water.

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It also means you can create a washdown area specifically suited the the farm needs, he added. 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.

He pointed out that growers 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 January 31st, 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 growers in meeting both financial and environmental targets.

Additionally, those who already have a sprayer washdown area are eligible for free rainwater harvesting equipment. 
Applications for the STEPS funding scheme are now open. To check you are eligible for funding or to apply, click here.

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