NI Water, in conjunction with the Water Catchment Partnership, are launching a free weed wiping project in the Armagh area between May and September 2017 and 2018.
This pilot scheme is aimed at land managers tackling rush weeds in the catchment area of Seagahan Reservoir near Markethill.
Roy Taylor, Catchment Manager, NI Water, explained the project: “At present, extra treatment is required at Seagahan Water Treatment Works as a result of the water quality in the Seagahan Dam. Monitoring of water in the dam has shown high levels of grassland pesticides such as MCPA, which could be from agricultural activity.
“Final drinking water is always at a high standard and meets all the required water quality standards, but there is a major increase in cost for the extra treatment required to deal with these chemicals.
“This innovative pilot scheme, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, will provide an alternative way of tackling rush weeds without using harmful pesticides. The method we will use is ‘weed-wiping’ to kill the rushes.
“The project, which is completely free of charge, will have a Farm Liaison Officer working with farmers and land managers to manage the weed wiping and promote better advice on handling, applying and disposing of grassland sprays, guidance on mechanical control of rushes and improving land condition to addressing the underlying causes of infestations.”
UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson added: “The Ulster Farmers’ Union fully support NI Water on the delivery of the ‘Rush solution without pollution’ initiative. This Free Trial which is being offered in the Seagahan Catchment Area in County Armagh aims to provide farmers and landowners with the necessary tools to tackle rush weeds.
“The UFU would encourage local farmers to show their support by signing up to the project and avail of this free weed wiping service.
“It is hoped that the success of this initiative will continue to build on the successful work of NI Water and the Water Catchment Partnership to date and that farmers can continue to adopt best practice protocols when it comes to weed control.”
The scheme will operate in the Seagahan catchment area in Co Armagh. Only fields within this area are eligible for the free weed-wiping service. The closing date for applications is 30 April 2017.
An information evening will be held on Thursday, April 6, at 7.30pm at Ballymacnab Community Centre, Ballymacnab Rd, Tassagh, Armagh, BT60 2QS .
Queries can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org Further details and application forms will also be available on www.niwater.com/watercatchment