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New rules for farm roadways in 2021

New requirements on farmers to prevent direct runoff of soiled water from farm roadways from 1st January 2021 are published. Cathal Somers, Teagasc ASSAP Advisor has more information as part of the Teagasc Waterford/Kilkenny Sustainability Series.

See Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) Specification on Farm Roadways S199 on www.gov.ie/agriculture

All farmers must prevent direct run-off of soiled water from farm roadways to waters. In the video below, Tom Fallon, Teagasc Farm Buildings and Infrastructure Specialist explains how this can be achieved.

Waters are defined in Specification S199 and include all water bodies and open drains that can carry water, even if only at times during the year.

Why now?

Over half of Ireland’s rivers are currently not at the required water quality status of good or high. Farm roadway runoff can contain sediment, faecal organic matter, nutrients and pathogens which can contribute to a decline in water quality if allowed to enter waters.

Diverting the soiled water onto a field or other area where the water can soak down through soil helps reduce the impact on our waters. The reason for this is that one of soils core functions is its ability to clean water as it passes through the soil, acting as a filter and attenuating nutrients.

Good News

The good news is that the measures to prevent runoff from farm roads will also invariably mean a saving in road maintenance costs over time and a better road surface for animals with less lameness etc.

Measures to prevent direct run-off from farm roadways to waters

  1. In most situations it will be a matter of allowing or directing run off from the farm roadway at regular intervals onto a field where it can soak away. Care must be taken to avoid directing runoff into paddock entrances.
  2. Creating a cross fall.

Roadways near watercourses maybe level or indeed they may have a cross fall (slope) towards the watercourse. Consider the feasibility of creating a cross fall away from the watercourse as shown in Figure 1.

The cost of creating this cross fall will be approximately €13.50 per m run for a 4m wide road. An existing road that is not in good order may need an extra 50 mm stone which would add €5.50 to the cost per metre. Where roadways have a significant fall to the watercourse, it may make sense to evaluate an alternative solution such as options 3. Alternatively it might be a good idea to relocate the roadway to another location, in some situations it might be an opportunity to improve infrastructure (paddock access) on the farm by placement of the roadway in a better location.

  • 3.  Creating an earthen bank or barrier alongside the stream/open drain can be a useful physical barrier to prevent the entry of road runoff. This runoff will need to be piped, channelled or directed back onto land or if this is not feasible consult your local advisor for alternative options.
  • 4.  Figure 2 is a typical example of a farm roadway running down towards a river or open drain, it is important to ensure a buffer zone is adhered to where animals enter a paddock adjacent to a stream. The gateway into the paddocks should be moved a minimum of 6m from the top of the bank of the stream or open drain.

  •  5. Where a farm road slopes down towards a public road and where there are waters running parallel with the public road, provision shall be taken to ensure that runoff from the farm roadway does not enter the watercourse or open drain. Steps shall be taken to convey the soiled water to a suitable soakage area. This also applies to roadways that are traversing a watercourse.
  •  6. Herd Management. For some holdings, livestock may have to cross a public road (where there is no underpass). In this situation cows shall be retained in the farmyard until milking is complete. The full herd can then be moved to the grazing area. This will reduce the time cows spend on the farm roadway and consequent soiling. The farm roadway and the public road shall be maintained as clean as possible.

One farmer’s simple solution to the new regulations: he has changed the camber on the road so it slopes away from the stream on the right. He has created a depression on the left that receives and allows the runoff to soak away.

Measures to mitigate runoff summary

  • Road sloping towards the field (and cuttings or discharge points into the field as required)
  • Ramps at intervals diverting runoff into the field
  • Soil bund, hedge or well vegetated verge preventing runoff
  • Runoff diverted onto a field, rough grazing, scrub, enclosed depression etc.
  • Change roadway location
  • Some situations will be more difficult to solve, contact your local advisor for more information

 If you missed the any of the previous articles & videos in the Sustainablity Series you can view them below: