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Minister Creed Announces Continuation of Agricultural Catchments Programme

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today announced the continuation of the Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP) for a further four year period to 2023.

Minister Creed said “The Agricultural Catchments Programme is an intensive monitoring programme of farming impacts on water quality and is vital for this Department to assist in meeting our requirements under the Water Framework Directive².. The Agricultural Catchment Programme is also crucial in the context of future reviews of our Nitrates action programme and continued success in securing Ireland’s Nitrates Derogation.”

The Agricultural Catchments Programme is in place since 2008 and is used to evaluate the impact of Irelands Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and the Nitrates Derogation which are implemented under the Nitrates Directive¹. This Programme and has been funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and has been delivered by Teagasc since its inception.

EU Member States are required to monitor the effectiveness of their Nitrates Regulations, under Article 5 (6) of the EU Nitrates Directive¹. Under the GAP Regulations³, DAFM has been monitoring the effectiveness of Ireland’s measures since 2008 through its significant funding of the Teagasc operated Agricultural Catchments Programme.

Following three successful phases of the ACP, Phase 4 of the programme will now also collect data on greenhouse gases emissions, ammonia emissions and soil carbon sequestration, as well as extending the current baseline monitoring of water quality.  These new developments will significantly enhance the monitoring of impacts of agriculture on our environment and aid the Department achieve our targets under the Climate Action Plan.

 

Note for Editors:

EU Member States are required to monitor the effectiveness of their Nitrates Regulations, under Article 5 (6) of the EU Nitrates Directive¹. Under the GAP Regulations³, DAFM has been monitoring the effectiveness of Ireland’s measures since 2008 through its significant funding of the Teagasc operated Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP). Phase 3 runs from 2016 to 2019, funding of €1.56 million per annum is provided. The ACP works in partnership with over 300 farmers in six intensively farmed catchments. The outcomes of this research provide a valuable insight into the processes that determine the impact of agricultural activity on water quality in the catchments.  Following ten years of intensive monitoring across the six catchments results indicate a positive response to the Nitrates Regulations, i.e. reduced nutrient inputs, increased nutrient management and some evidence of reduced nutrient losses from farmland to water. As a result, water quality trends are showing signs of recovery, although there are time lags between the implementation of measures and realising measurable improvements in water quality.  Overall, evidence from the ACP indicates that supporting farmers, through technical advice, to make better decisions regarding how they manage nutrient applications, offers the greatest potential to improve outcomes for water quality on Irish farms.   Scientific knowledge generated by the ACP helps fulfil Ireland’s monitoring and reporting requirements under the Nitrates Directive, including the Nitrates Derogation, and the Water Framework Directive (WFD³), and provides the basis for technology transfer to stakeholders.

The Programme is primarily designed to monitor the effectiveness of the Nitrates Regulations, and this will be a central focus the 2021 EU Nitrates Review.  However, the scientific findings will also provide an assessment of the contribution that Irish farmers are making to the delivery of Water Framework Directive objectives, the key driver of EU water policy. 

The current phase of the ACP (phase 3) commenced in January 2016 and builds on the gains and experiences from earlier phases of the Programme. The ACP works in partnership with over 300 farmers in six intensively farmed catchments.  Phase 4 facilitates the programme’s expansion to include the evaluation of new measures including greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions and soil carbon sequestration

The outcomes of the research delivered provide a valuable insight into the processes that determine the impact of agricultural activity on water quality in the catchments. Overall, evidence from the ACP indicates that supporting farmers, through technical advice, to make better decisions regarding how they manage nutrient applications is likely to be the single area with the greatest potential to improve outcomes for water quality on Irish farms.  This should deliver increased efficiencies for the farmer while reducing risk of nutrient loss to water. 

The Nitrates Derogation allows more intensive farmers to operate at a higher stocking rate than that stipulated in the Directive, subject to adherence to stricter rules to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  The derogation will run to the end of 2021 when the fourth Nitrates Action Programme concludes.

Ag-Climatise:

Ag-Climatise, a National Climate & Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector to 2030 and Beyond is open for public consultation until the 10 January 2020.

The consultation is composed of two elements:

  1. 1.         The Ag Climatise roadmap is available at https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/ruralenvironmentsustainability/climatechangebioenergybiodiversity/ag-climatiseadraftnationalclimateairroadmapfortheagriculturesectorto2030andbeyondpublicconsultation/

which sets the scene and poses a number of questions.

2.         An online survey to facilitate a response to the questions. Ag-Climatise Survey. The survey will

take about 35 minutes to complete.

 

Written comments are also welcome by email to Agclimatise@agriculture.gov.ie and also by post to:

Climate & Air Roadmap Consultation

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Climate Change & Bioenergy Policy Division

Grattan Business Centre

Dublin Road

Portlaoise

Co Laois

Ireland

R32 K857

The All of Government Climate Action Plan can be found  here

The Ag-Climatise initiative is also in keeping with the objectives of Future Jobs Ireland – Preparing Now for Tomorrow’s Economy, in particular Pillar 5 – Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy.

 

¹Nitrates Directive: Council Directive 91/676/EEC

²Water Framework Directive; 200/60/EC

³Nitrates Regulations, S.I. 605 of 2017, European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 & S.I. 65 of 2018, European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) (Amendment)  Regulations

 

ENDS

Date Released: 18 November 2019