Teagasc will be restructuring its advisory services this year to better tailor its services to farmers in light of increased work around farm schemes, Teagsac director Frank O’Mara has said.

“In terms of advisory, this year we’re going to start the restructuring of the service, with the objective of protecting the programme.

“The growth of schemes in the last decade, in particular the last five years, has taken a disproportionate amount of time of our advisers in terms of the important work of servicing farmers in those schemes,” O’Mara told the Lismullin farming conference in Meath on Thursday.

He said that Teagasc will review the current advisory services to create a team of advisers to focus on technical farm work only.

“We want to create a cohort of advisers who won’t be involved in scheme work, will only be involved in technical work.

“So that when the crush comes on in the spring we will still have a team of people out in the fields dealing with technical programmes,” he said.

Water quality

The Teagasc director said that the advisory body needs to do a “better job” of getting information to farmers on the water quality in their locality.

“Regulation is a very top-down, one-size-fits-all approach. Water quality differs in different regions.

“We need to make people more familiar with the issues in their particular regions and what are the important things for them to do,” he said.

O’Mara added that Teagasc will be enhancing its efforts on water quality and that there will be an extension to the existing Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP).

“We’re expanding that out. The reach of ASSAP isn’t fast enough really to deal with the problems that we have,” he said.