Ireland's agriculture sector has to "accept that we have responsibility for a proportion of the water quality issue", head of dairy knowledge transfer with Teagasc Joe Patton has said on a Lakeland Dairies farm walk.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Quality in Ireland 2016-2021 report, 63% of water bodies are affected by agriculture and 46% of surface waters are in an unsatisfactory condition.

“'What aboutism' won’t solve issues," Patton said at the Lakeland Dairies farm walk on Eugene Fitzpatrick’s farm on Friday.

"From an agriculture perspective, we have to accept that there is a risk from agriculture,” he said.

Stocking rate

“We have to be precise in what the measures are that will make a difference.

"A lot of the discussion has been about stocking density and stocking pressure, when maybe issues like nutrient handling and nutrient management may actually deliver something different, which is a positive from a farmer’s perspective. Stocking rate is so intrinsic in terms of the potential profitability of the system.

"It is a key driver of profitability of any grazing system. In an Irish context we value the grazing system above anything else.

“As an industry, we have to accept and address our proportion of the responsibility, if we can do that we can make a lot of progress,” he concluded.