Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Watch: Farmers share actionable measures to improve water quality

Watch: Farmers share actionable measures to improve water quality

The Teagasc Better Farming for Water Campaign, a multifaceted approach to support and accelerate the adoption of actions on all farms to improve all water bodies to Good or High Ecological Status, centres on 8 actions for change.

  1. Reduce purchased nitrogen (N) and 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.
  4. Have sufficient slurry and soiled water storage capacity.
  5. Manage and minimise nutrient loss from farmyards and roadways.
  6. Fence off watercourses to prevent bovine access.
  7. Promote targeted use of mitigation actions such as riparian margins, buffer strips and sediment traps to mitigate nutrient and sediment loss to water.
  8. Maintain over-winter green cover to reduce nutrient leaching from tillage soils.

Aired as part of the launch of the Teagasc Better Farming for Water Campaign on May 30, Shane Fitzgerald, a dairy farmer from Portlaw, Co. Waterford, and Sean Sheridan, a drystock farmer from Moynalty, Co. Meath, shared the actions they’ve taken on their respective farms to improve water quality.

Even though no river runs through Shane’s farm, he’s still aware of the potential risks his farming activities pose to water quality, whether that be nitrate or phosphorous loss. And to mitigate against these risks, tools such as the Pollution Impact Potential (PIP) maps have been examined and a number of measures have been implemented at farm level.

“It is important that we are aware of those challenges and then we can use different methods to alleviate those pressures,” the Teagasc Signpost and Teagasc/Tirlán Future Farm participant commented, before outlining the measures implemented on his farm, including: a sediment pond to reduce phosphorous and sediment loss; the installation of field margins to protect open drains on the farm; and the introduction of legumes, such as clover, into grazing swards to reduce his farm’s dependence on artificial nitrogen fertiliser applications.

Shane commented: “We're very conscious now of spreading just enough nitrogen that we need to grow the grass that we need.

“Measures like incorporating clover into the sward and also multi-species is another measure we've used in the last few years. We have up to 20% of the farm in multi-species.

“These different varieties, they're basically less dependent on nitrogen. With all the clover in the sward, we're able to get just as much production from the sward with less nitrogen input, so this improves our nitrogen use efficiency.”

From the introduction of clover, Shane has been able to reduce artificial nitrogen applications from 250kg/ha of N back to 170kg/ha of N.

Watch the video below for more insights on the actions Shane Fitzgerald has taken on his farm to improve water quality:

Meanwhile in Co. Meath, Sean Sheridan runs a drystock enterprise where store heifers are purchased and carried to beef on an annual basis. In a quest to improve water quality on his farm and following a visit from his local ASSAP advisor, Sean decided to install a number of solar water pumps to remove the requirement for cattle to approach the river to drink water.

In the below video, Sean explains how the decision came about to install these solar water pumps, while also outlining how they are working in farm:

Find out more about the Teagasc Better Farming for Water Campaign here