The Word on the Week

Environmental Issues

It was this Thursday’s edition of RTE’s programme “Ear to the Ground” which introduced us to Dr Rory Harrington’s work of encouraging local farmers to recreate wetlands. Retired to a farm in a Co Waterford valley he was able to study the problem of waste water first hand and see a solution implemented.

With improvements in farming methods, farms have expanded and many have doubled the amount of livestock they carry. This has produced an increase in waste water. The remedy has been to contain it in large tanks and spread on the land at certain times of the year to improve its fertility.
Dairy farms with their need for additional hygiene have a major problem of disposing of this dirty water. Severe storms and other factors can cause the system to overflow causing seepage into the watercourses.

The solution arrived at in Co Waterford has been for farmers to surrender some acres of marginal land in low lying areas and create a network of ponds producing a shallow wetland. Water passing through it is interrupted by clamps upon which grow bacteria which extracts nutrients. These in turn create growth in the vegetation which sustains an increasing amount of wildlife.
In addition, the wetland captures carbon improving our footprint in accordance with EC requirements.

Whilst the topography may not lend itself to a wetland on every farm there are many locations where this could be successfully introduced assisting to reclaim areas where wildlife has been deprived of its habitat.

Many species are under threat. It is a rare thing to hear the curlew’s call. The bird, once common, is now almost extinct in Ireland. Flocks of Lapwing were seen to winter near ponds in an old sand and gravel quarry but they are gone. Most ground nesting birds are under threat. It is years since we have heard the skylark.

Environmental schemes are not the full story. It requires those who live in the country to take an interest in their surroundings. It is not an easy task as we live in a fallen world where God’s rule has been rejected. Any gardener will tell you that weeds, the emblems of sin, do not have to be planted! Our farming methods so easily pollute and destroy fertility as many barren places testify.

In the end the dust eating serpent of Genesis chapter 3 will meet its fate Isaiah chapter 65 verse 25 when the restoration of all things is complete: – The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.