by Emmanuel Joseph
Government’s proposed establishment of an intensive food crop and livestock farm on about 100 acres of land at Dodds Prison in St. Philip is likely to bring with it potential negative environmental impacts, including air, water and soil pollutants and pesticides.
The final report of a 105-page Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Study, recently made public, also identified other adverse impacts such as offensive odours, nitrogen and phosphorous pollution of water and ammonia emissions to the atmosphere.
The study warned that pesticides could have deleterious effects on human and other animals such as birds, aquatic life and amphibians.
“In case of crop production, potential negative environmental impacts of pesticides include air, water and soil pollution; and pesticides can have deleterious effects on humans and other animals,” pointed out the report.
The assessors also outlined the concerns regarding the livestock production aspect of the farm.
“In case of livestock production, the three main potential environmental impacts are: objectionable odours, nitrogen and phosphorous pollution of water and ammonia emissions to the atmosphere.
“The ESIA submitted that odour emissions would come mainly from production buildings and manure storage and from spreading of fresh manure to fertilise land.”
Manure can also be an ideal breeding ground for various insects, including flies. It also tends to attract birds and rodents,” cited the document.
However, measures to address the various concerns related to the proposed establishment of the farm, are to be put in place.
“Where pesticides are concerned, the most effective mitigation is the use of chemicals that have low toxicity levels and low persistence in soils. Pesticides likely to be used include insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, which are used to control insect pests, undesirable grasses and non-grasse weeds, and fungal diseases respectively,” declared the study.
The report also assured that, essentially, all of the pesticide products proposed for use at Dodds are currently licensed for use in Barbados; and or have been approved for use by the Pesticide Control Board.
“In terms of environmental hazards, all of the proposed pesticide products fall into the WHO’s class of moderately hazardous (class ll) or slightly hazardous (class lll), based on their toxicity and their soil half-life values,” it added.
The study outlined, too, a management plan for mitigation of negative environmental impacts.
“Measures which will be employed by the Dodds Prison Farm for mitigating the negative impacts and promoting the safe use of pesticides in crop production, include use of approved pesticides only, with strict adherence to recommended application rates and concentrations, proper pesticides, storage and stock management, training of workers in the safe use and handling of pesticides and provision of adequate personal protective equipment for all workers using pesticides.”
The experts concluded: “At the Dodds Farm, the negative impacts associated with livestock production will be mitigated through the use of recommended husbandry best practices and responsible handling and management of manure and spent products from the animal production activities.”
“Direct emission,” they observed, “of odour from the broiler houses, will be virtually eliminated by proper management of the litter during the grow-out period. Wet and soiled areas of litter will be removed on a daily basis to achieve this objective.
“In addition, the farm will set up a composting facility that will convert spent chicken litter and some plant material, into an “essentially” odourless fetiliser product that will be applied to crop land.
“With regard to pig production, the first level of odour abatement will be the employment of industry recommended pig husbandry best practices. Manure from cattle, sheep and rabbits, poses much less of a problem with respect to odour emissions, than that from pig and poultry, and can more readily be incorporated directly into crop lands.”
“However, this manure can also be treated in the farm’s bio-digester,” the report continued.
The impact study suggested that odour and noise abatement will be achieved through allocation of buffer zones between the stock areas and surrounding residential developments and the establishment of the windbreaks planted in multiple rows. It concluded though, that the disposal of animal carcasses has been a problems for some livestock farmers in Barbados.”
At Dodds Farm, disposal of carcasses can potentially be a big problem, since several classes of livestock will be reared there simulataneously.
“The assessors suggested that the proposed solution is for the farm to acquire and install its own pathological incinerator designed specifically for handling type 4 animal waste.
The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment finally found that given the mitigation measures outlined, it was not anticipated that the establishment and operation of a crop and livestock farm at Dodds Prison will lead to any significant negative impacts on the environment or any deleterious social effects on health in the surrounding communities. [email protected]