Smart buffers could offer a more targeted approach to protecting water quality.
Speaking at one of Teagasc’s Signpost Series Webinars last week, Patrick McCabe of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) explained that if you want to intercept phosphorus, you need a sufficient size buffer.
However, Patrick noted that a lot of schemes have standard buffers of 1.5m or slightly greater and he commented that this is not enough to intercept overland flow in certain cases.
“I think there needs to be more consideration given to a smart buffer or a dynamic buffer approach, where in certain parts of the land the buffer is extended out and can be relaxed in other areas,” Patrick explained.
He added that this prevents the farmer from losing a uniform set of land, and could allow buffers to be designed on a site-by-site basis, possibly with the help of an agricultural adviser.
Seán Corrigan, also of the NFGWS, stated that it is important that measures introduced work for the farmer and the environment and added that farmers should not be financially penalised due to water quality regulations.