dairy farm

Farmer profile- Bill and Adrian are a typical NI dairy farm found in the Ballinderry river catchment. They milk approximately 150 cows which calve year round. They run a grass based system, with cows grazing during the day and housed at night for supplement feeding.

The problem

The farmland is mainly heavy clay classified as disadvantaged land and severely disadvantaged land. The farm is set 650ft above sea level and has rainfall of approx 1000mm/m2 annually. This makes water management on the farm challenging. This challenge is heightened by a unique problem. The farmyard has springs rising throughout (picture at bottom of doc). As this yard water is collected, this puts pressure on slurry storage. The farm sits on a slope down to a tributary of the Ballinderry River. Given this close proximity to the river there is a risk of pollution if effluent or slurry escapes to the river.

The Solution

The farm is aware of this risk and, in the past, along with Ballinderry rivers trust has looked at systems like integrated constructed wetlands to deal with the dirty water issue. The systems looked at were unfavourable as they were either very costly, or required a large area of land to be sacrificed. The project identified this as an opportunity to develop a system which deals with this problem that can be replicated on other farms which face a similar problem. Pictured below is a diagram of the proposed nature based management system to deal with the problem.


The blue lines represent swales, as described in swales (link to swales page on website). The swales have been laid out in accordance with the contours of the land at the site. The final swale will have an outlet into the willow (link to nettles page on website) area, which has a proven ability for bioremediation. Nettles (link to nettles page on website) will be planted between swales, we are interested in the nettle plants ability to take up nutrients from dirty water, but are also exploring innovative end markets through an affiliated project.
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