No upper limit payments have been set for farmers implementing water quality actions under the €60m Farming for Water European Innovation Partnership (EIP) launched last Thursday.

Fifty million euro in funding has been ring-fenced for farmer payments, with the remaining €10m allocated for administration costs.

A team of 43 Teagasc and dairy co-op Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) advisers will recommend the measures that farmers can choose to roll out for payment under the scheme. It is planned that up to 15,000 farmers will take part in the EIP – the largest ever seen in the country – and payments are expected to average around €4,500, potentially limiting the number of farmers able to participate. Measures to be funded under the scheme include:

  • Riparian margins.
  • Fencing off waterways.
  • Sediment traps.
  • Improving nitrogen use efficiency.
  • Establishing hedgerows and trees. These seek to slow the flow of water across land, intercept nutrients and sediment before they make their way into waterways, or to reduce the volume of soiled water produced on land.
  • No measures will be funded which are already required under the Good Agricultural Practice regulations or which are being paid for under other farm schemes.

    Derogation farmers will not be eligible to receive funds for meeting the standards required to avail of a derogation.

    The scheme has been funded jointly by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Housing, along with EU co-funding.


    The advice and measures in catchments where phosphorous is an issue will be targeted towards three general areas where nutrients can be lost to water on farms: runoff from yards, linear features (like roadways or drains) and overland water flows.

    Actions will be tailored to the particular problems in each farm’s catchment, with the two main categories being nitrogen loss on lighter soils and phosphorous/sediment loss on heavier soils.

    Most farm assessments will focus first on rectifying water management issues in yards (but not the slurry and soiled water requirements laid down in law) by harvesting rainwater, diverting water from yard areas and redirecting water into suitable wetlands.

    Where nitrates in main water quality is an issue, farmers will have the option of availing of a results-based payment for increasing nitrogen use efficiency, while also improving water management in yards.

    Possible measures will be listed and ranked by the effectiveness they are expected to have in rectifying water quality issues. This step will take a “looking up the farm from the river approach” to identify which measures are most appropriate.

    The measures supported are also designed to deliver multiple benefits for the environment, for example by increasing biodiversity and cutting emissions.

    Advice on the best practices with pesticides is to be given to all participating farmers.

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