‘Beat the Freeze’ is the message from the Ulster Farmers Union and NI Water to farmers this winter.
This message reiterates the call from previous years to check farms and agricultural buildings across Northern Ireland are prepared for cold weather conditions.
David Oliver from UFU commented: “Although we have experienced relatively mild winters over the last few years, it’s important that farm businesses do not become complacent in preparing for winter.”
Beat the Freeze’ is a quick and cost-effective approach to help combat the cold weather. Simply take a few minutes to ensure that water pipes in and around farms and in outhouses and barns are protected and well insulated; if not, then take action now and potentially save money, time and the inconvenience of dealing with a burst pipe. If sheds or barns are not being used, make sure the water supply to them is disconnected.
‘‘Knowing where your stop valves are, and keeping the contact number of a registered plumber on hand, will play a vital role in minimising damage caused by a burst pipe,” said Mr Oliver. “By taking a few simple steps, we can all play our part and help ‘Beat the Freeze’. Local farmers can’t afford not to take action this winter.’’
Top tips for farmers:
Ensure that you have good understanding of the layout of pipework within your land and keep a map of the line of this pipework;
Know where your stop valves are located; why not put one of NI Water’s new stop valve tags on them? You can request these by calling Waterline on 03457 440088.
Ideally, install a number of stop valves to isolate water supply to disused areas of the farm during the winter months;
Ensure that you have a supply of the relevant fittings to repair any leakages;
Know where your meters are located (NI Water will help you to do this if asked) and check them on a regular basis. A higher reading may indicate a leak which should be located and repaired as quickly as possible to reduce water bills, which are a major liability for a working farm;
Inspect remote troughs which may not be used at this time of year, particularly the exposed pipe leading into the trough; if cattle are inside consider turning the supply to the trough off at the meter or installing a stop valve for the trough (or field) so you turn off the supply without having to do so at the meter. Consider draining troughs;
Where practical ensure all underground pipes are buried 750 millimetres (2½ feet) below ground level.
Ensure any pipes within buildings are insulated, where appropriate, taking account of the presence of any livestock;
Fix dripping taps – a gentle trickle of water can freeze and completely block the pipe;
Examine the adequacy of storage in the event of a supply problem. NI Water recommends at least 24 hours storage;
Write down the name and contact details of a SNIPEF (Scotland and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation) registered plumber in case a pipe does burst.