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Independent.ie

Thursday 19 April 2018

Pollution of water worry

Just 1kg of phosphorus when present as phosphate will pollute a staggering 29m litres of water, farmers at the Teagasc Agri-Environment conference were told last Thursday.

Donal Daly, from the Environmental Protection Agency, told the conference delegates that the main pollution threats from farming were faeces and urine from animals and inorganic fertilisers, not organic fertiliser spreading.

He warned that in order to meet the objectives of both the Food Harvest 2020 report and the Water Framework Directive, control of nutrient losses was essential. This would involve minimising leakage of nutrients from the soil and farmyards, increased buffer zones, riparian zones and preventing cattle from entering streams.

First EIA bid near success

The first screening application under the controversial new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive has been received by the Department of Agriculture.

The confidential application, made by a farmer for improvement works on his farm, has already been subject to a site inspection and is believed to be close to being approved.

Department official Bill Callanan said the definition of uncultivated or semi-natural grassland would be clarified in its guidance document as it was not intended to bring 80pc of Ireland's grassland under the regulations.

However, he warned that drainage plans for land next to NATURA sites would require screening.

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Soil fertility fears mount

Concern is growing about declining soil fertility and pH across the country, the Teagasc Agri-Environment conference was told.

Soil fertility surveys between 2007 and this year showed a welcome fall in the number of P index 4 soils, but a worrying increase in the number of soils classified at P index 1 or index 2.

Maximum grass growth is achieved at P index 3, but only 28pc of soils on dairy farms surveyed last year were index 3.

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