Teagasc is to spearhead a seven-year campaign focused on water quality that will draw together farmers, industry players, advisers, researchers and the Government.

The ‘Better Farming for Water’ campaign aims to accelerate the uptake of water quality actions and improve the status of water bodies where agriculture is a significant pressure to good or high ecological status.

The new campaign will create eight new roles within Teagasc, including six water catchment co-ordinators, a water quality catchment research officer and a programme manager.

Eight actions at farm level will focus on three areas: nutrient management including chemical fertiliser reductions and appropriate slurry spreading; farmyard management including slurry storage, roadways and yards; and land management including riparian zones, fencing off waterways and green cover on tillage land.

Local solutions will be targeted to local problems, and the Boyne, Slaney, Barrow/Nore, Suir, Blackwater and Lee/Bandon catchments will be prioritised in the first two years of the programme.

Requested by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, the new programme will build on existing water quality programmes such as the Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP), Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP), Farming for Water EIP, and more.

The Water Framework Directive requires all EU member states to achieve at least good status in all surface water and groundwater bodies by 2027. Currently, just over half of Irish surface water bodies such as rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters are achieving at least good status.