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Pillar 2:
Building Awareness by acquisition and utilisation of water quality data

Objective:

Building awareness amongst farmers and other stakeholders of their
local water quality and specific challenges facing agriculture to improve
water quality

Key Actions:

  • Enable farmers and stakeholders to access water quality data/maps for their local area
    through www.catchments.ie.
  • Enable farmers and stakeholders to access Pollutant Impact Potential (PIP) maps
    through www.catchments.ie showing risk areas for losses of N, P and sediment to
    waters in their local area.
  • Develop AgNav to estimate purchased N (and P) surplus and N use efficiency.
  • Inform farmers and stakeholders of the current practices that may be negatively
    impacting water quality in their local area.
  • Promote the concept of water stewardship by providing context as to why actions are
    necessary to improve water quality.
  • Highlight and showcase areas where successful mitigation measures (for N, P and
    sediment) have been implemented.
  • Share water quality information in their local area with farmers at farm walks, discussion group meeting and BISS engagement.
  • Share information through social media, public events, and discussions with local
    communities.

Ireland is a European leader with regard to the collection and sharing of information on water quality and threats to water quality. The EPA makes data from each monitoring point available through the website www.catchments.ie and also provides a full assessment of the ecological status of Ireland’s waters every three years (in line with WFD reporting requirement). This assessment reports on the water quality status of over 3,000 waterbodies (i.e. rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal, and groundwaters).
Coupled with this, the EPA provides an annual update on trends in the biological quality and nutrient status of our waterbodies, resulting for example in maps highlighting average nitrate and phosphate concentrations at river sites (see Figure 1). In addition, Pollution Impact Potential (PIP) maps help identify the risk areas for losses of N, P and sediment to waters at the field-to farm scale.

These data and PIP maps are a hugely valuable resource and using them to build awareness among farmers and other stakeholders of their local water quality and specific local challenges will be a central element of the ‘Better Farming for Water’ campaign.

Facilitating farmers to access, navigate and interrogate these maps, assessments and reports is key to building awareness amongst farmers and other stakeholders of their local water quality and specific local challenges facing agriculture to improve water quality.

Another key initiative will be to develop AgNav so that it can estimate purchased N (and P) surplus and N use efficiency for a farmer, and its decision support function will allow a plan to be developed to help reduce these surpluses. AgNav is the farmer-centric sustainability support platform developed by Teagasc, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Bord Bia.

Sharing tools and technologies with farmers to reduce nutrient loss (e.g. improved nitrogen use efficiency); coupled with identifying and demonstrating successful implementation of mitigation measures (for N, P and sediment), will help build farmer awareness of, and confidence in, the actions that can be undertaken on their own farm to improve their local water quality.

Key Deliverables

Q2 2024

Teagasc clients provided with local water quality information and maps at their BISS consultation

Q3 2024

AgNav available to estimate purchased N (and P) surplus/ha and N use efficiency

Q4 2024

Catchment/water bodies water quality data and PIP maps made available to all stakeholders