11 December 1998

Beware risks of point source pollution

AS pressure grows to catch up on weather-delayed herbicide programmes, specialists are warning of the risks posed to water by so-called point source contamination.

Although high autumn rainfall has led to swollen rivers and more dilution of products escaping from farmland, growers must not relax, says the IPU Task Force.

"All things being equal we could be better off through dilution," says chairman Steve Higginbotham. But good practice must not suffer and should apply to all herbicides. Detection of any active ingredients in water above EU standards threatens product choice and application rates, he warns.

Merely leaving the sprayer out in the rain on a concrete yard draining to a watercourse could be enough to cause problems. "Where possible wash it down in the field and keep it under cover."

In some cases up to 70% of ipu contamination of water has come from point sources like spillages and washing of gloves and clothing, says ADASs Andree Carter. "Less than a wineglassful spilled in the farmyard can be the equivalent of a 1-2t/ha application in the field," she says. Unwashed caps loosely replaced on rinsed containers turned upside down for quick identification are another easily over-looked source of trouble, adds Mr Higginbotham.

"When times are as hectic as they are now, it is easy to overlook simple things such as where you dispose of your washings," says Cyanamids Keith Temple.

"We have got to be very careful with ipu or the writing is on the wall," adds Bob Mills of Banks Agriculture. &#42

STEWARDSHIP REMINDERS

&#8226 Protect watercourses.

&#8226 Point source problems.

&#8226 Herbicide choice/rate threat.

&#8226 Tiny amounts = big risks.