The Catchment Science 2023 conference is currently underway in Co. Wexford, where the agricultural effect on water quality in water catchment areas is being discussed.

The conference has gathered over 200 scientists, advisors, farmers and representatives from the agri-industry and the public sector to hear the latest on water catchment science. 

Catchment Science 2023 is the fourth international conference hosted by the Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP), funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

The programme has been running since 2008. It is funded by the department and run by Teagasc.

The event is taking place from November 7 to 9 in Clayton Whites Hotel, Wexford and is comprised of scientific presentations, panel discussions with farmer and stakeholder contributions, and field visits.

Catchment science

Speaking at the conference, Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey, said that the Catchment Science 2023 conference is about the “excellence of water catchments”, and “what we can do to improve water quality.

“There has been water sampling every ten minutes in six catchments over 15 years, so there is an incredible amount of data and an incredible amount of learnings from that data.

“This conference is sharing best practice here in Ireland with best practice from elsewhere in Europe,” Markey said.

Teagasc director, Prof. Frank O’Mara said: “Among the key findings from the ACP were that the underlying soil type and geology can override the effect of nutrient source pressures.

“There was no clear link between stream N and P (nitrogen and phosphorus) concentrations and nutrient loading at small catchment scale.

Targeted and efficient mitigation measures are required,” he added.

Some of themes discussed at the conference were:

  • Soil fertility, nutrient and carbon management;
  • Gaseous emissions and carbon sequestration;
  • Land to water contaminant loss;
  • Long-term, in-situ monitoring and catchment modelling of water quality and greenhouse gases (GHGs);
  • Climate induced changes;
  • Running a ‘living lab’ in agricultural settings;
  • Impacts of hydro morphology and contaminant stressors;
  • Approaches for mitigation strategies;
  • Attitudes, perceptions and impacts of policy change;
  • Knowledge exchange and stakeholder engagement;
  • Governance and policy implementation.

Speaking at the event, Bridget Lynch, Teagasc senior researcher with the ACP said: “We have had a tremendous response to our call for abstracts across a number of themes related to catchment science with over 100 papers from national and international scientists.

“Catchment Science 2023 is a blend of oral presentations, panel discussions, field trips, workshops and poster sessions.

“We have the full spectrum of actors working on water quality and gaseous emissions with scientists, policy makers, agri-industry, local authorities, county councils and other groups in attendance.”