Lakeland Dairies will host a major information and education event on the importance of protecting and enhancing water quality.

The event, which is set for 10 May at 1pm, will take place on the farm of awardwinning Lakeland Dairies supplier Eugene Fitzpatrick.

Attendees will see first-hand the huge steps farmers in derogation such as Eugene are taking to protect water quality.

The importance of the dairy industry in driving a balanced regional economy will also be highlighted at the event.

The event - titled Farming for a better future: protecting our waters - will have speakers including experts from the Department of Agriculture water quality division, Eddie Burgess from Teagasc’s agricultural catchment programme and head of dairy knowledge transfer with Teagasc Dr Joe Patton, as well as senior Lakeland Dairies staff.

Derogation farmer

Eugene is a derogation farmer and has a progressive approach towards slurry management and nitrogen efficiency.

Eugene applies all his slurry using a dribble bar and 80% of slurry is applied in spring. Through excellent grassland management, his grazing season has extended in recent years.

As well as regularly soil sampling the farm, Eugene also uses protected urea. He used sexed semen on his heifers and he has seen his EBI increase also.

Commenting on the event, Lakeland Dairies chair Niall Matthews said that the entire foundation of our world-class dairy industry is the protecting and enhancing of our water quality.

"As a co-op and as an industry, we are constantly striving to make improvements to our water quality, which is already good by EU standards."

Improving water quality

He said it is critically important that farmers, political figures and any other relevant stakeholders attend on the day to understand the huge steps Lakeland Dairies farmers such as Eugene are taking to continually improve water quality.

“The importance of the derogation cannot be underestimated. The derogation allows Ireland to maximise our truly unique grass-based system. This needs to be recognised and protected.

"Therefore, we are calling on all political figures nationally and locally to attend this critical meeting to see first-hand how dairying is breathing life into rural communities in every county in the country.”