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Enhancing Ireland’s Agri Environment

Pat Murphy, Head of Environment, Knowledge Transfer Department, Teagasc; Cathal Buckley, Research Officer, Agricultural Catchments Programme, Teagasc; Patricia Torpey, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Paddy Browne, Head of Crops, Environment & Land Use Programme, Teagasc.

Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025 emphasise the importance of increasing agricultural output while at the same time enhancing the rural environment. Opening the Agricultural Catchments Programme at the Agri-Environment Conference today, Thursday, 5 November in Tullamore, Head of the Teagasc Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme, Paddy Browne said: ”The Teagasc Soils and the Environment Research and Knowledge Transfer programme is focusing on improving nutrient efficient and soil fertility on farms; reducing the impact on water quality arising from nutrient losses from agriculture; achieving a sustainable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon foot print of Irish agriculture produce; maintaining and improving biodiversity in agricultural systems.”

Results from the Agricultural Catchments programme, which is run by Teagasc and funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, were presented today. Among the conclusions were that farm and field level nutrient management best practice have been shown to significantly improve both profitability as well as the water quality outcomes at the end of catchments. Best practice in the area of nutrient management promotes strict management of nutrients on land to reduce the risk of nutrient mobilisation in run off pathways to water bodies.

Delegates at the conference also heard about NMP-Online, an integrated tool for the adaptive nutrient management planning summary, which has been developed by Teagasc and will be available to all agricultural professionals for use on derogation and GLAS Nutrient Management Plans.

Pat Murphy, Head of Environment Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said: “The poor fertility status of soils in Ireland poses a significant threat to the achievement of growth targets for the industry. The challenge facing the industry is to improve soil fertility while at the same time achieving environmental objectives. This can only be achieved by improving nutrient management planning at farm level, which in turn can only be achieved if farmers have a good understanding of the principles of soil fertility management and a clear understandable plan for its implementation. The new Teagasc NMP online is the first step to achieving this.”

Today’s conference is the 4th major environment related conference organised by Teagasc in the last three months.