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Warning to farmers over silage storage

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30 AUG

Warning to farmers over silage storage

By timesecholife on in All News, Featured News

AN AGRICULTURAL insurer is urging farmers to ensure they adhere to strict guidelines around the storage of silage as many begin to stock up for the winter.

Charles Foster from Lycetts, outlined the importance of checking clamps for any signs of leakage.

Such seepage from clamps can be up to 200 times more potent than sewage, and if it gets into the waterways, it can spell a huge problem for wildlife and fish.

Mr Foster said: “Silage effluent is extraordinarily toxic — so the damage it can cause to watercourse eco-systems is profound.

“Once the effluent is in the ground and reaches a watercourse, it is very difficult to contain and it can find its way into springs, wells and boreholes and public water supplies, which will require immediate action by an Environment Agency-approved contractor.

“Farmers must therefore make every effort to ensure their clamps are well maintained, and that includes all pipes and tanks as well.”

Storing silage

There are rules when making and storing silage on the farm, but these don’t always apply if the storage is temporary while awaiting transport.

Farmers looking to house silage on-farm on a permanent basis though, must ensure it’s not made or stored within 10 metres of any coastal or inland water source.

Baled silage also shouldn’t be unwrapped within this perimeter, with this type of silage required to be sealed in an impermeable membrane or bagged too.

With field silage it is a requirement that it is stored at least 50 metres away from a protected water supply source — i.e. a location where water is taken with the purpose of human food preparation, human consumption and/or use within farm dairies.

When silage is stored as field silage, there mustn’t be any construction works either and it’s important that topsoil is not disturbed at any point of the process.

Silos also need to be attack-resistant.

Therefore, each one should have an impermeable base which extends beyond any of its walls. This base is also required to comply with British Standard 8007:1987 and British Standard 8110-1:1997 regulations if made from concrete, or British Standard 594/EN 13108-4:2006 if a hot-rolled asphalt design.

On the outside of the silo, there needs to be draining collection channels that lead to an effluent tank.

This ties into another important point, in that each silo must have an effluent collection system, though it is fine to store both silage effluent and slurry together should your tank have enough capacity and have been constructed in a manner to withstand both types of effluent.

Just take note that gases, which are lethal to both humans and livestock, can result from mixing slurry, so silage effluent should never be placed into an under-floor slurry store.

Environment Agency

The process of making and storing silage will inevitably involve the Environment Agency at points.

In fact, the organisation must be notified at least 14 days ahead of the building of a new storage facility for silage, slurry or agricultural fuel oil.

The same timeframe must be followed before making substantial changes to an existing store of silage, too.

Visit the GOV.UK website to find your local Environment Agency details, but the following information will be needed:

• Your name, current address, phone number and email address.

• The type of storage facility that you’re intending to create or alter.

• The specific location of the intended storage facility — provided via an 8-figure grid reference.

Anyone using an inadequate storage facility for silage or fuel oil, can expect the Environment Agency to be in touch to serve a notice to improve the facility, or relocate the silage.

This will occur when the organisation is concerned that the storage facility is posing a significant risk of pollution, though the farmer receiving the notice will have at least 28 days to carry out the necessary work — more time may sometimes be granted too, such as if planning permission needs to be sought out or the weather is unsuitable for work to be carried out at the time a notice is delivered.

There is a 28 day window to lodge an appeal. This appeal must contain a copy of the notice received, all related correspondence and a plan of the farm concerned in the notice — complete with the installation as well as all watercourses and drains to the Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Affairs

An appeal can have any of the three following outcomes:

1. The notice will be altered or withdrawn.

2. The notice will be upheld, though extra time will be provided for you to comply.

3. The notice will be upheld, though you’ll be provided with no extra time to comply. Instead, the compliance period will often end on the day the decision is made.

Incorrect silage storage saw one farmer fined thousands of pounds after a protected watercourse was contaminated as a result, so it’s important that farmers review their silage storage regularly.

Mr Foster said: “Farmers have many HSE and Environment Agency standards to comply with and must keep ahead of the game to avoid these fines which remain uninsured.

“It will not only allow them to rest easy in the knowledge they are fully compliant with working practices and not polluting the environment, but they won’t suffer an unexpected financial hit if things go wrong.”


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