IFA President Tim Cullinan said farmers want to see all our rivers in the high-status categories and they are working hard to achieve just that.
The latest figures from the EPA indicate a net improvement in the quality of our rivers, and no change or an improvement in N and P concentrations for 63% and 76% of our catchments, respectively.
Within the priority areas of action, 57 water bodies showed a net improvement.
“Farmers are working directly with their advisors in these areas to improve water quality and it’s delivering tangible results. The ASSAP programme that assists farmers in their own catchments must be expanded so we can support more farmers to improve water quality,” he said.
Within a European context, Ireland is one of the best for water quality where 98% of our groundwater bodies are below 50mg/L for Nitrates (in contrast to Germany and Spain at 72% and 78.5% respectively) and our surface waters have the lowest concentrations of nitrate. This is against a backdrop of greater testing frequency in Ireland compared to other EU member states.
The monitoring period reported by the EPA includes the summer drought of 2018.
This is significant, given that this prolonged period of dry weather changed the characteristics of the soil which resulted in a high mobilisation of Nitrogen from the soils to water when it did rain.
“As farmers, we know we need to keep working hard, but this report shows real signs of progress and is something all stakeholders can build upon,” he concluded.