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Free weed wiper hire to help farmers protect water quality

6 June 2019

  • Free weed wiper hire for farmers in the Teifi, Towy and Upper Wye areas
  • Three day hire available from April – October 2019
  • This is the last year the trial to safeguard drinking water sources will run

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has confirmed its award winning weed wiper trial will run for one more year as part of its PestSmart project. PestSmart encourages people to consider ‘smarter’ ways of weed, pest and disease control and promotes the safe storage, use and disposal of pesticides and herbicides.

By encouraging farmers and land managers to consider the way they manage their land in ways that do not impact on people, water or wildlife, the not-for-profit water company aims to safeguard raw water quality before it reaches their water treatment works.

Farmers and land managers in the rivers Teifi, Towy and upper Wye catchments can hire a weed wiper for free for three days until the end of October. Weed wipers are a proven and effective method of managing rush infestation and have multiple benefits for farmers and their land.

By wiping glyphosate directly onto weeds, weed wipers dramatically reduce spray drift in comparison to more traditional methods, such as boom or knapsack spraying. Using less chemical can not only save land managers money, but can also reduce the risk to their health water and the wider environment.

The free equipment hire is supplied by Welsh Water as part of PestSmart, its project which aims to safeguard drinking water sources by promoting the safe storage, use and disposal of pesticides.

Joanne Burford, Catchment Manager for Welsh Water, explains:

“In 2015, our routine raw water monitoring programme started to detect increasing traces of pesticides in areas we had never seen them before, so we worked with local farmers to develop this win/win solution to address the issue.

“By safeguarding the raw water quality before it enters our water treatment works, we can avoid the need for using additional chemicals and energy to get drinking water perfect for our customers. This will not only help us to keep bills low, but will also safeguard and protect our water sources and the wider environment for generations to come.”

“Weed wipers have the added benefit of only being licensed with Glyphosate which takes considerably less time to break down in water than MCPA, a chemical commonly used in boom sprayers. The combination of no spray drift and less chemical use makes it a safer method of weed control for both farmers and the wider environment.”

John Dalton, farmer and owner of Daltons ATVs who provide the machinery, explains why he became involved in the project:

“There are many benefits in using a weed wiper to treat grassland weeds. We first used one on our farm about 10 years ago. We were amazed at how little herbicide it needed in comparison to boom or knapsack spraying and were delighted at how much money it saved.

“Weed wipers are so easy to use and produce great results on rush, bracken, thistles, nettles, docks and weeds without affecting grass and clover. And because Glyphosate kills plants to the root, it was more effective than the MCPA we previously used on our fields.

“Farming and the environment go hand in hand, so working with Welsh Water on the project has been great in knowing we’re helping others to practice sustainable farming while protecting the water environment.”

Welsh Water’s PestSmart project offers advice and practical chemical free solutions for weed, pest and disease control as well as free initiatives to promote the safe storage, use and disposal of pesticides and herbicides.

Visit www.dwrcymru.com/pestsmart to find out more and register your interest for future trials and schemes.