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Pollution Prevention on Farm Roadways

A well designed and well maintained farm roadway has many benefits which must include pollution control. Farm roadways are widely acknowledged as a significant run off pathway. Eamonn Dempsey, Teagasc Advisor, Tralee, has advice here on roadway layout to avoid run off to watercourses

Farm roadways are an important infrastructure on farms facilitating movement of animals and machinery in an efficient and controlled way. Farm roadways are widely acknowledged as a significant run off pathway, as heavy summer rainfall can wash fresh animal deposits very quickly into watercourses.

From the 1st of January 2021 there is a new requirement on all farmers to prevent direct run off of soiled water from farm roadways to watercourses. 

Waters include all water bodies, but also ditches that may be dry in summer but convey water in the winter. In most situations preventing direct run off from farm roadways will be a matter of allowing or directing run off from the roadway onto a field at regular intervals. In other situations it may be challenging and require some changes to road layout design or paddock access points. Roadways which are level or have a slight cross-fall towards a watercourse, should be cambered creating a cross-fall away from the watercourse. If the cross-fall is significant, create a physical barrier e.g. earthen bank alongside the stream and channel the run off back onto land. If directing run off back onto a field is not possible, a sediment trap or pond can be created. A sediment trap may be needed where extra run off onto wet or poorly drained ground would make the situation worse. It will be necessary to channel or pipe the water to the sediment trap and clean out any debris at the start of each winter.

Roadway layout

The roadway layout must be designed to service the entire grazing area, by creating reasonably direct access from all parts of the farm to the farmyard. Important considerations have to be made in setting up a paddock system such as which fields to divide into paddocks, paddock shape and size and drinking points. These considerations and your farm budget will help you decide on the length of permanent and temporary roadway to connect all paddocks to the farmyard. In the creation of roadways avoid sharp turns at corners and junctions by using sweeping bends. Remove excess shade that will leave roadways dark, wet and dirty and locate roadways at the sunny side of the hedgerow.

Farm roadways cost €26.50 to €29.00 per metre for a 4 metre wide road, 80% of this cost is for materials. 

Where animals enter a paddock adjacent to a watercourse, the gateway should be moved at least 6 metres from the top of the bank of the watercourse. Livestock will be allowed to cross a watercourse to an isolated land parcel. If constructing an underpass, decide on the collection of soiled water, which may involve the installation of a slatted tank on one side of the underpass and a drainage outlet on the other side. If making changes to your roadway infrastructure consult with your adviser, NPWS, or DAFM to ensure any works being proposed are not subject to the requirements of Environment Impact Assessment regulation. If you propose to create a new farm roadway in environmentally sensitive areas (NHA, SAC, SPA) it might be considered damaging and permission will be needed. These are called notifiable  actions  or activities requiring consent and vary depending on the type of habitat that is present on the site.

A well designed and well maintained farm roadway has many benefits which must include pollution control.

Teagasc Advisors are regular contrbutors of articles on topics of interest to farmers here on Teagasc Daily For more on roadways see The Farm Roadway Visual Assessment Booklet