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Water trough Location and Water Quality

Correct Water trough location is vital to ensure livestock have good access to plenty of drinking water while also ensuring there is no negative impact on water quality. Fiona Doolan, Teagasc ASSAP Advisor, Co. Laois discusses correct siting of water troughs on farm to meet these requirements

Water troughs located in wetter, poorer draining areas are more likely to allow lands around them to become poached. Livestock will naturally congregate around water troughs and if they are located close to waterbodies, there is an increased risk of sediment and nutrients entering into rivers and streams. Correct location and management of troughs is crucial to ensure livestock have adequate access to clean drinking water while eliminating any possible pathway for sediment or nutrient to enter into watercourses.

It is important to plan the location of new or existing water troughs to minimise any impact they may have on water quality.

  1. Site troughs in drier areas of the fields – avoiding low lying, wetter areas that are prone to poaching
  2. Ensure there is a good base to place troughs on so they remain level and avoid the risk of subsidence over time
  3. Locate water troughs away from surface water drains and streams. This will “Break the Pathway” and prevent nutrient and sediment loss into our waterbodies
  4. Check troughs regularly, particularly during the winter to ensure there are no leaks or burst pipes

Trough location on higher stocked farms

From 1st Jan 2021 It is a requirement on higher stocked farms (over 170Kg of Organic N per Ha and those with a Grassland Stocking Rate (GSR) over 170Kg before slurry exports) to ensure that their Drinking Troughs are at least 20M from all watercourses. Check with your adviser to ensure you are complying with this new requirement. Ensuring this 20m distance between troughs and watercourses will reduce the risk of sediment or nutrient around water troughs reaching the waters.

Correct location and management of Water troughs in areas less likely to allow sediment and nutrient entering watercourses is one measure we can all adopt to ensure we play our part in improving water quality

More on Agriculture and Water Quality can be found here