The Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP) has been given the green light for a further four-year period to 2023, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has announced.
Revealing the news today, Monday, November 18, Minister Creed said: “The ACP is an intensive monitoring programme of farming impacts on water quality and is vital for this department to assist in meeting our requirements under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
The Agricultural Catchment Programme is also crucial in the context of future reviews of our Nitrates action programme and continued success in securing Ireland’s Nitrates Derogation.
The ACP is in place since 2008 and is used to evaluate the impact of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and the Nitrates Derogation which are implemented under the Nitrates Directive.
This programme and has been funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and has been delivered by Teagasc since its inception.
Phase 3 runs from 2016 to 2019, funding of €1.56 million per annum is provided. The ACP works in partnership with over 300 farmers in six intensively farmed catchments.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the outcomes of this research provide a valuable insight into the processes that determine the impact of agricultural activity on water quality in the catchments.
Overall, evidence from the ACP indicates that supporting farmers, through technical advice, to make better decisions regarding how they manage nutrient applications, offers the greatest potential to improve outcomes for water quality on Irish farms.
Scientific knowledge generated by the ACP helps fulfill Ireland’s monitoring and reporting requirements under the Nitrates Directive, including the Nitrates Derogation, and the WFD, and provides the basis for technology transfer to stakeholders.
Overall, evidence from the ACP indicates that supporting farmers, through technical advice, to make better decisions regarding how they manage nutrient applications is likely to be the single area with the greatest potential to improve outcomes for water quality on Irish farms.
This should deliver increased efficiencies for the farmer while reducing risk of nutrient loss to water.
The Nitrates Derogation allows more intensive farmers to operate at a higher stocking rate than that stipulated in the directive, subject to adherence to stricter rules to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The derogation will run to the end of 2021 when the fourth NAP concludes.
EU member states are required to monitor the effectiveness of their Nitrates Regulations, under Article 5 (6) of the EU Nitrates Directive.
Under the GAP Regulations, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been monitoring the effectiveness of Ireland’s measures since 2008 through its significant funding of the Teagasc-operated ACP.
These new developments will significantly enhance the monitoring of impacts of agriculture on the environment and aid the department in achieving Irish targets under the Climate Action Plan.