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Action for Jersey water quality

14 December 2016

Island farmers, Jersey Water and the Department of the Environment are continuing to work together to improve Jersey’s surface and ground water quality in 2017.

The Nitrate Working Group, which previously made recommendations to address nitrates in streams, groundwater and reservoir waters, has evolved into the Action for Cleaner Water Group and is also now working to reduce pesticides in water.

Test results earlier this year showed higher than expected levels of pesticide in ground and surface water. Many of these were recorded during the potato season.

Jersey Water increased the number of tests it carried out to enable better blending of water from several reservoirs to lower the levels of the historically used pesticide Oxadixyl.

Work by the farming industry

The Jersey Farmers Union, the RJA&HS and potato growers (the Jersey Royal Company and Albert Bartlett) commissioned Audax, a firm which manages pesticide control for UK and EU supermarket chains, to review how pesticides are used in Jersey. Audax have started work on the pesticides used by the potato industry and will follow this up with work on those used by the dairy industry. Officers from the Department of the Environment are working on pesticides used by other users, so that all island users of pesticides are included.

Island farmers are now working together to implement the findings of the report. This will further control the application of pesticide and fertiliser to land and crops and ensure minimal losses to the environment of pesticide and fertiliser during the forthcoming 2017 potato season.

Recommendations on the most appropriate products to use for the 2017 growing season in particular water catchment areas will be issued shortly to potato growers around the Island.

Actions include: 

  • replacing certain pesticides with ones which are less likely to leach and run off into streams and groundwater
  • using better accuracy techniques when applying pesticides and fertilisers
  • using fertiliser that is low in phosphate
  • continuing and expanding areas for trials (such as the use for slow release fertiliser and placement of fertiliser in the rows next to the potato).

The Department of the Environment supports this initiative and the work by the farming industry.

The Department will shortly publish its first new five-year Water Management Plan for Jersey. Its focus is to reduce nitrate, phosphate and pesticide in groundwater, streams and reservoirs.     

Minister for the Environment Deputy Steve Luce said "I am greatly encouraged by the proactive work of the farming industry to address these long-standing Island water quality issues. We will continue to work together and I will monitor progress through the joint Action for Cleaner water Group.

"The new five-year Water Management Plan will underpin this work. The work also has island-wide benefits for those people on boreholes and wells, our public water supply, and future expenditure, if needed, on the planned replacement sewage treatment works at Bellozanne and on levels of green seaweed."

The Technical Director for Jersey Royal, Mike Renouard, said ‘The Jersey Royal potato is an iconic island crop. Farmers in the island have constantly changed their growing of the potato to achieve the best quality crop. The latest changes focus on safeguarding the environment and our island water resources. Island growers are committed to the environment and these changes, especially as the 2017 season approaches. These changes will compliment various trials that are being undertaken to ensure that the environment continues to be safeguarded."

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