An innovative project is underway to address the agricultural industry’s impact on the environment by developing a dewatering and purification system to manage slurry.
Driving the project are Coleg Sir Gâr’s Gelli Aur agricultural campus and Power & Water, a Swansea based company specialising in electrochemical-based water treatments.
This Project has received funding through the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for rural Development and the Welsh Government. The project will apply innovative and proven concept technology to reduce air and water pollution to reduce the overall volume of slurry by up to 80%. A de-watering and purification system is used to filter slurry, transforming the water to a suitable quality for recycling or discharging to a clean watercourse. The system will also utilise nutrients from the slurry to produce good quality fertiliser.
John Owen, farm manager at Coleg Sir Gâr, said: “With the intensification of the dairy industry, slurry management is becoming an increasing issue for farmers and the environment.
“We aim to reduce significantly the risk of air and water pollution at the same time as maximising the recycling nutrient value. This development process will considerably reduce storage of slurry on farms as well as handling costs.
“Efficiently extracting nutrients from manures could save on the cost of commercial fertilisers and reduce serious environmental impact. However poor manure management can cause pollutants, including nutrients, to enter the water cycle through run-off or drainage.”
The project also aims to design, develop and validate economically viable systems that will be made available commercially and used on farms.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) states that the number of pollution incidents caused by dairy and beef farms across Wales has fluctuated between 85 and 120 for each of the last six years. Wet winters and a significant downturn in the dairy market have added to the pressure on the environment and farmers; reducing their capacity to invest in slurry and silage store management and over 60% of the incidents involving pollution during the last three years took place within the milk field of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.
- According to the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in its ‘Agricultural Pollution Issues – and the implications for natural resource management’ document (Summer 2016), agricultural pollution is the third most frequent reason for failing to achieve good status in Wales. It affects some 180 individual waterbodies. The number of pollution incidents caused by dairy and beef farms across Wales has fluctuated between 85 and 120 for each of the last six (6) years. Recent wet winters and a significant downturn in the dairy market have added to the pressure on the environment and farmers; reducing their capacity to invest in slurry and silage store management.
- Point of source pollution incidents (such as those caused by overflowing slurry stores) are concentrated in particularly parts of Wales.
- The ongoing agricultural pollution arising from both point and diffuse sources is having a serious detrimental effect on the Welsh environment and impacts on the ability to meet WFD targets under the River Basin Management This situation could lead to substantially extending the area currently covered by Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ).