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Improving Water Quality

Improving water quality and supporting the production of high-quality food are what Teagasc are targeting through various water quality initiatives.

Achieving ‘Good Status’ for all waters in Ireland is a key national goal and Teagasc continues to provide the science for improving our water through its research programme.  For ten years Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP) staff have been working with 300 farmers across six catchments in Ireland. 

ASSAP (Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme) is a free and confidential service working with farmers in 190 priority water quality catchments in Ireland.  Together with the Local Authority Waters Programme, advisors from both Teagasc and the dairy industry are helping farmers put in place mitigation measures to improve water quality.

On this page we aim to highlight the work of a wide range of Teagasc staff who are working together to improve our water quality. 

Teagasc Researchers working for better water quality

Agricultural catchments programme (ACP) researchers are studying a wide range of factors which influence water quality. By looking at soils, farm systems, streams, groundwater and weather, we can help devise ways to improve our water quality. Much of this work is done on farms and also with scientists outside our programme. 

In this short clip, hear from  ACP Principal Scientist Per-Erik Mellander and some Walsh Fellow PhD students and researchers about the work they are doing.  Walsh Fellows and other early stage researchers play an important role in the research done both in the catchments and associated programmes such as the Horizon 2020 WaterProtect project.

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  Teagasc Technologists working to Improve Water Quality

The Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP) has a wide range of instruments across the streams, soils, and farms in our six areas. The instruments are gathering data continously since 2009 and it is important that these are maintained to the highest standard. With the programme since it began, David Ryan takes the lead in the care of the extensive range of these instruments across our six catchments.  In this short clip, David speaks about his role in ACP and the importance of instrumentation in the programme.

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 Teagasc Technicians working to Improve Water Quality

Working as a technician in the Louth and Monaghan areas, John Kennedy describes his work with a wide range of catchment instrumentation and data collection. With the programme since the start in 2009, John speaks about the early stages of the programme and the many challenges in setting up the catchments.  

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Stream Sampling

In addition to automated instruments, streams and wells in the agricultural catchments programme are manually sampled for a wide range of water quality parameters. This is done at regular monthly intervals and also around key weather events such as storms or drought. Data from these samples together with the automated bankside analyser (kiosk) increase our understanding of water.  In this video, John is shown sampling a stream in our Dunleer catchment. 

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Groundwater Sampling

Groundwater is an important component in looking at water quality. For example, at certain times of the year most of the water in the stream can originate from below ground and is greatly influenced by soil type and hydrology. Therefore, in order to better understand loss of nutrients to water is is important to investigate groundwater in addition to surface water. In three of our catchments, wells are sampled at least monthly and water quality data collected.

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Maelle Fresne, Teagasc Walsh Fellow

P loss contributes greatly to water quality decline in Ireland.  From France, Maelle Fresne is researching the movement of small phosphorous fractions in groundwater-fed sites in the ACP. Her Walsh Fellow PhD is a collaboration between Teagasc, Ulster University, Northern Ireland and Geosciences Rennes, France.  

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Genevieve Smith, Teagasc Walsh Fellow

From New Zealand, Genevieve Smith is researching phosphorous movement in waterlogged soils as part of her studies. Farming is important in both Ireland and New Zealand and improved water is an important national goal. Her Walsh Fellow PhD is a collaboration between Teagasc and AgResearch / Lincoln University, New Zealand.

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Water quality is an important component of our overall environment research. Further information about our Environment Research can be found here 

For more information on how to improve water quality on your farm, please see Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP)