Are you sheep dipping this autumn?

If you are planning to dip your sheep this autumn,  you need to make sure that the way you dispose of your dip is legal. It is also important to make sure that any dipping operations are planned and managed carefully to prevent any dip chemical causing water pollution.

Plunge dipping results in left over dip solution that needs to be disposed of responsibly and in line with legislation. Dip solution is extremely polluting and so must be handled carefully to prevent it escaping to the environment. All stages of the dipping process need to be considered and managed to prevent any dip escaping into drains, ditches, watercourses and groundwater. Storage, preparation of the dip solution, the dipping process itself, management of freshly dipped sheep and transport and disposal of left over dip solution should all be managed carefully to prevent pollution.

If you have a dip bath on your farm…

  • Check it is watertight and there are no drain holes in the bottom. If there are seal them permanently.
  • Prepare dip in an area where any spillage of concentrate would be contained.
  • Do not let hoses lie in the dip solution when filling as back-siphoning can occur where chemical is sucked back up into supply.
  • Drainage pens should be adequately sized to contain sheep until they have stopped dripping. Drain pens must have an impermeable floor and drain back to the bath.
  • Make sure sheep stay in the drainage pens until they have stopped dripping.
  • Do not hold freshly dipped sheep on yards with surface water drains. Hold them in a building until dry or release straight to pasture. Do not let freshly dipped sheep have access to any streams or rivers.
  • If you dispose of dip on your own land, you must have an Environmental Permit. This sets out conditions that allow you to dispose of dip in a certain area that has been assessed to ensure that the disposal does not pose a risk to any surface or groundwaters. This is to protect streams, rivers and water supplies from contamination. Contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506506 to apply for a permit or apply on line at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/discharges-to-surface-water-and-groundwater-environmental-permits.
    Disposal to land without a permit is an offence, for which you may face enforcement action. It is also a breach of cross compliance, which may result in a reduction in your Basic Payment. It is important that you contact the Environment Agency to discuss your requirement for a permit and they will help you through the process.
  • If you dispose of dip solution through collection by a licenced waste contractor, check to make sure they have a waste carriers licence and that they are taking the dip to a registered waste site. The contractor should give you a waste transfer note, so make sure you request one and keep it in your records.
  • Dip should never be discharged to a soakaway as this poses a risk of polluting wells and boreholes used for drinking and other domestic and trade purposes.

If you are using a mobile dipping contractor……….

  • Check whether they will be taking away the used dip or whether they will be leaving it with you on the farm. If they are leaving it with you, you will need a permit for disposal and a secure container to store it if conditions for land spreading are not suitable at the time of dipping.
  • Do not site mobile facilities on yards with surface water drains.
  • Fields can be used provided they are flat, have a good grass cover and have no land drains, ditches, watercourses or water supplies nearby.
  • Make sure the contractor’s facility has adequate drainage pens that will contain the dip.
  • Keep freshly sipped sheep off yards with surface water drains and away from watercourses and water supplies.

Don’t dip sheep if you expect rain within 24 hours unless you have a ventilated shelter for your flock. Rain can wash off dip that hasn’t had time to dry.

A code of practice is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sheep-dip-groundwater-protection-code
This gives more detailed guidance on the matters raised above.

You can also phone your local Environment Agency Office for help and advice on pollution prevention and dip disposal 03708 506506. The Agriculture Officer for the West Midlands is Sharon Chisholm.