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27
JULY 2019
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Energy Focus
Water and Energy Policy into
Practice
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine outlines the practical measures being taken to
ensure policies regarding water and energy deliver results on farm
Farming plays an important role in the Irish economy and
landscape and approximately two-thirds of the Irish land
area is in agricultural use. Water Quality in our rivers, lakes
and groundwater is relatively good but needs to improve
and farming practices play a key role in this improvement.
Under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), Ireland has
a requirement to achieve good status in waters by 2021
or by 2027 at the latest. This will be a major challenge as
there are signs that some water quality is declining and that
agriculture is responsible for a portion of the decline.
A number of regulations and initiatives are in place
supporting the achievement of improving water quality.
The Nitrates Regulation and Derogation
The Nitrates Directive, implemented by means of the
Nitrates Action Programme (NAP), is the key legal measure
in Ireland's River Basin Management Plan dealing with
Agriculture. Its objective is preventing and reducing water
pollution from surplus nutrients coming from agriculture.
The next review of the Action programme will take place
in 2021 but in the meantime, a review of the derogation
conditions is taking place. The need for this review is driven
by the increase in land area being farmed under derogation
and is aimed at ensuring responsible management of the
derogation which is also coming up for review in 2021.
Almost 7,000 intensively stocked farmers availed of the
derogation in 2018. It is recognised that compliance of a
higher standard is required from these farmers to ensure a
greater level of environment e ciency is achieved.
Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory
Programme (ASSAP)
The ASSAP is an innovative programme funded by DAFM
and Industry and supported by the farm organisations.
Its objective is to achieve improvements in water quality
by providing free and confidential agricultural advice
from 30 dedicated agricultural sustainability advisors to
farmers operating in the selected Areas for Action. The
programme commenced in 2018 and will run to 2021.
The sustainability and water quality improvements will be
achieved through three main areas of focus on farm:
f Improved nutrient management with more targeted
use of slurry and fertiliser
f Better farmyard management & practices
f New approaches to land management to reduce
nutrient losses in critical source areas.
f The Department also funds an intensive monitoring
programme called the Agricultural Catchment
Programme and which is operated by Teagasc.
The Agricultural Catchment Programme is a programme
funded by DAFM and promotes better water quality and
supports the production of high-quality food. It has been in
operation for nearly ten years with ACP sta working with
300 farmers across six catchments in Ireland.
Phase 3 of the programme runs to the end of 2019 and
builds on the gains and experiences from earlier phases.
Overall, evidence from the ACP indicates that supporting
farmers, through technical advice, to make better decisions
regarding how they manage nutrient applications is likely
to be the single area with the greatest potential to improve
outcomes for water quality on Irish farms
Pesticides and drinking water
E orts to address the issue of pesticide detections in
drinking water are being coordinated by the National
Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG),
which is chaired by the DAFM.
DAFM introduced an important new regulatory measure
at the end of 2017 as part of e orts to target actions more
e ectively in priority catchment areas. The new measure
is a regulatory requirement for companies marketing
products containing the herbicide MCPA to participate
in an industry-led product stewardship scheme that
undertakes intensive monitoring of raw water in the priority
catchment areas for MCPA and chemically similar active
substances and that actively and consistently promotes
best practice standards at a national level in relation to
supply and use of MCPA products.
The monitoring results are contributing to a better
understanding of the behaviour of MCPA in the priority
catchments and are helping stakeholders to target actions
more e ectively.
Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme
(GLAS)
There are currently 50,000 farmers in the GLAS scheme
which has a budget in excess of 920m over the lifetime
of the Rural Development Programme (RDP). GLAS is
designed to ensure the targeted and prioritised delivery
of environmental benefits drawing from the extensive
preparatory analysis underlying the RDP.
Recent survey evidence suggests that GLAS has achieved a
number of key benefits including maintaining hedgerows,
increasing biodiversity on farms and improving water
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JULY 2019
Energy Focus
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
26