Novel approach to pesticide washings

Greenmount Campus Biofilter'
Greenmount Campus Biofilter'

Greenmount Campus has recently built and commissioned a Biofilter to help tackle the issue of dealing with pesticide washings.

Biofilters are basically an organic filter system. Biofilters work because pesticides, by design, have an affinity for biological matter and so are bound to the biomix used. Biomix is generally a mix of straw, peat free compost and soil.

This provides conditions for enhanced microbial degradation of the pesticide active ingredients over time.

The technology of Biofilters for the bioremediation and breakdown of pesticide actives has been proven to be effective through trials carried out across Europe.

The Greenmount Campus biofilter is based on three Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC’s) of a nominal 1000 litre capacity with their tops removed and linked plumbing allowing liquid distribution from the top container to the next underneath and so on through to the bottom container.

It is important that the liquid spreads uniformly over the material surface within each container (see photograph).

Biofilters are designed to treat non-hazardous pesticide solutions.

Examples include small spills and drips that may occur during handling and mixing, run off from the pesticide handling area and equipment washings.

However, biofilters are not a substitute for best practice and every effort should be made to avoid spills or splashes of pesticide concentrates.

For example place a drip tray under the induction hopper.

Best practice also requires that in most cases, the first set of tank washings should be sprayed onto the target crop ensuring the maximum dose is not exceeded.

Biofilters are a farmer friendly, practical, ‘build it yourself’ method of disposing of left-over pesticides, sprayer tanks and other washings.

Most materials required can be found on-farm or can be easily sourced, a relatively small area is required for complete setup and spent biomix can be recycled on land after the required resting period.

If you would like to visit the biofilter at Greenmount Campus, demonstrations will be available at the up and coming ‘Potatoes 2014’ event on Wednesday 3 December, 2014.

The facility will also be on show at the 2015 Arable conference organised jointly by CAFRE, the UAS and the UFU, which will be held on 13 January 2015.

Please contact Adrian Quinn on 028 9442 6709 or Leigh McClean on 028 9442 6928 for more details or email: developmentservice.admin@dardni.gov.uk.