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Teagasc is launching a 7-year (2024-2030) national multi-actor campaign focused on improving water quality in Ireland. The campaign will support the active participation of all farmers, agri-food industries, local communities, advisors/researchers and government stakeholders.

This campaign is being initiated at the request of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., and forms part of a wider whole of government approach to improving water quality.

Building on On-going Water Quality Initiatives

The ‘Better Farming for Water’ campaign will build on existing water quality programmes such as ACP, ACRES, ASSAP, Farming for Water EIP, Waters of LIFE, Blue Dot Catchments, Slaney project (and others) as part of the campaign to improve water quality. This will require the creation of strong collaboration between these initiatives and the ‘Better Farming for Water’ campaign. An industry stakeholder group will be established to ensure this will be implemented.

Aim of Better Farming for Water Campaign

To support and accelerate the adoption of actions on all farms to improve all water bodies (where agriculture is a significant pressure) to good or high ecological status.

Objective of Better Farming for Water Campaign

The objective will be to support all farmers to focus on three critical management areas, namely:
1) Nutrient management; 2) Farmyard Management and 3) Land Management.

This will be achieved through the on-farm adoption of the following 8-Actions for Change.

8-Actions for Change

Nutrient Management

  1. Reduce purchased nitrogen (N) & phosphorus (P) surplus per hectare
  2. Ensure soil fertility is optimal for lime, phosphorus and potassium
  3. Ensure application of fertiliser and organic manure at appropriate times and conditions

Farmyard Management

  1. Have sufficient slurry and soiled water storage capacity
  2. Manage and minimise nutrient loss from farmyards and roadways

Land Management

  1. Fence off watercourses to prevent bovine access
  2. Promote targeted use of mitigation actions such as riparian margins, buffer strips & sediment traps to mitigate nutrient and sediment loss to water
  3. Maintain over-winter green cover to reduce nutrient leaching from tillage soils

Key Performance Indicators

The success of the ‘Better Farming for Water’ multi-actor campaign will be measured at three levels:
Enablers; Adoption of Key Actions and Impacts.


Multi-actor participation

  • Raising awareness
  • Pollution Impact Potential (PIP) maps and local knowledge to identify and manage high risk areas
  • Common messaging
  • Information sharing
  • Detailed farm plan and visits
  • Best-practice demonstration on-farm
  • National & regional events
  • Regular and timely training
  • Research outputs


Enhance farmers’ knowledge of local water quality and pollution pressures

  • Reduce nutrient, sediment, pesticide and pathogen loss to water bodies
  • Increase the proportion of river water bodies with agriculture as significant pressure to high/good ecological status

Adoption of key actions

Adoption of the right measure in the right place at the right time

  • Reduced purchased N & P surplus/ha
  • Improved nutrient management & soil fertility
  • Only apply fertiliser and organic manure at the appropriate time and conditions
  • Sufficient slurry and soiled water storage capacity
  • Reduce nutrient loss from farmyards and roadways
  • Bovine exclusion from watercourses
  • Targeted use of mitigation measures such as riparian margins, buffer strips and sediments traps
  • Increase over winter green cover

adoption of key actions and impacts

Figure 2: ‘Better Farming for Water’ campaign enablers; adoption of key actions and impacts