At a recent Teagasc Dairygold Signpost farm walk on Darren Allen’s farm in Co Cork, the Irish Farmers Journal spoke to Eimear Connery of Teagasc and Ciara Donovan of Dairygold about water quality.

Eimear noted that 53% of rivers are at good or high status when it comes to water quality and she noted that Ireland rates quite well in comparison with other European countries.

However, she noted that in the 1980s, 500 sites has really good water quality and this figure is now down to 20.

In agriculture, nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment all cause a risk to water quality. Speaking on Darren’s farm, Ciara noted it is a heavy soil and phosphorus loss can be an issue.


She pointed out the risks of slurry washing into rivers when spread before rain and then described an action Darren took to protect a river on his farm.

“There’s a fantastic wooded area that runs alongside the river and that acts as a fantastic buffer that will physically prevent the water from running very quickly off the land and into the river,” Ciara explained.

“There’s the opportunity for the roots of the trees to take it up [phosphorus] and physically slow it [sediment and phosphorus] down."

She added that farmers can do this on their own farms in field margins.

“That’s a really simple thing that a lot of farmers could do is allow that vegetation to grow and don’t spray it, leave it to grow wild and that acts as a physical barrier and the roots will help to take up nutrients underground then as well."

Eimear and Ciara recently featured on the Irish Farmers Journal's Tillage Podcast. Check it out here.