We took a tour of the new swale systems on a dairy farm outside Cookstown today. The system is a way of capturing and recycling nutrients and minerals that would otherwise be lost. The system is based on simple principles but a lot of thought has gone into the design.
First of all clean spring water was diverted away from the yard so that it wasn’t adding to the volume that needed to be cleaned. But that still left lots of rainwater falling on roofs and yards where it could pick up manure and head for the river.
Harvesting the comfrey and the willow is bringing valuable nutrient back into the system. The plants are playing another role in supporting pollinators and providing habitat.