Throughout the week of Monday,March 22 - Friday, March 26 – Teagasc, in collaboration with the dairy processing co-ops and the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), are running a Water Quality Week.
The purpose of the week is to provide water quality focused information and advice to farmers to help minimise losses of nutrients, sediment and pesticides to water from their farming practices.
The week will cover a broad range of topics and will be available to farmers and the public, primarily through short videos posted on digital media platforms and local print media.
Each day will be dedicated to a particular theme and will look to explain a range of water quality problems and provide practical advice and solutions to farmers.
LAWPRO will get the ball rolling on Monday March 22. They will explore the importance of water quality to farmers and their thoughts on what can be done to improve it.
They will also explain how water quality is measured, demonstrating a kick sample which is used to identify quantities and type of macro invertebrates in the water as these give a good indication of the quality of the water.
Public access to information on the streams and rivers of Ireland is important and a guide on using the catchments.ie website will also be shown.
On Tuesday 23rd the Teagasc and Co-op ASSAP advisors will provide information on nitrogen with the help of researchers from Teagasc Johnstown Castle. Information will be provided on how nitrate interacts with soil and what farmers can do to minimise diffuse nitrate losses form their farms.
Focus will be on nitrate use in early spring and autumn with emphasis on soil moisture deficit, soil temperature and the weather forecast and the role LESS, clover and protected urea can play in preventing losses.
This will be followed on Wednesday 24th with a similar discussion on diffuse phosphorus (P) and sediment losses to waters and how farmers can ‘break the pathway’ of P and sediment losses by putting the right measure in the right locations on farms.
The identification of critical source areas (CSA’s) and establishment of riparian margins in these areas will help prevent P and sediment losses.
Advice will be given on how best to manage farm drains and peat soils as these are also a source of sediment and P.
The focus on Thursday 25th will be on pesticide use on farms and how these can impact streams and rivers and also drinking water supplies.
Advice will be provided on best practice in applying sprays and how to minimise losses particularly in relation to MCPA use and rush control and sheep dip use and disposal.
There will also be a focus on the roles that agro forestry and wetlands can play in helping to protect and improve water quality.
On Friday 26th the week will be closed out by explaining the importance of good farmyard management practices as these play a vital role in minimising point source losses of nutrients. The focus will be on silage pits and effluent control, animal housing and soiled water management.
There will also be an opportunity to tune into the weekly Teagasc Signpost Webinar for additional information and discussions on the topics covered by water quality week.
Further information on water quality week is available on www.teagasc.ie/waterquality week, from your local co-op sustainability advisor and www.watersand communities.ie