Averages hide a lot when it comes to water quality, Eddie Burgess told grain growers in Enniscorthy on Tuesday.

Teagasc’s agricultural catchments programme specialist explained at the 2024 malting barley conference that Castledockrell, one of the programme’s six catchments, is at the heart of malting barley growing country.

Ballycarney Grain’s malt barley intake is situated on the catchment, which flows into the Slaney. The catchment programme has raised concerns about nutrient loss from tillage land.

“We have a pretty good story to tell where the Slaney is concerned,” Burgess said. “It’s important that we’re aware of good news stories. There are 95 monitoring points along the river, he explained.

Sixty of them are classified as “high” or “good” in the most recent testing results.

Some 35 are “moderate” or “poor”, with none being classed as “bad”. In addition, the Slaney recorded the biggest improvement nationally in terms of the number of monitoring stations meeting the requirement.

Burgess pointed out that, nationally, there was a slight improvement in the overall 2021 results, in that some rivers which were previously “poor” or “bad” had moved up to “moderate”.

This is an improvement, but still short of the required status.