The Irish Agricultural Catchments Programme: policy implications and challenges for adaptive management
Professor Phil Jordan, Coleraine Environment Research Centre, University of Ulster
Tuesday 24 January 2012, 1330-1430
LEC Training Rooms 1 And 2
Centre for Sustainable Water Management Seminar
The Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP) is Ireland's response to evaluate the EU Nitrates Directive regulatory framework and specifically the effect of agricultural management changes on water quality with regard to phosphorus and nitrogen use. The Programme operates in six catchments (3-30km2) covering a range of grassland, including karst, and arable settings. Phase 1 (2008-2011) of the Programme was concerned with catchment selection, experimental design and establishing an extended baseline of audits across the nutrient transfer continuum. These audits employ a high spatio-temporal method of measurement and monitoring for sources and delivery of nutrients from land to water. Combined with national inventories of nutrient source data and water quality status, the interim data from the ACP catchments are helping to inform and modify expectations on the efficacy of water quality targets. Phase 2 of the Programme (2012-2015) is concerned with extending the datasets to validate Phase 1 assertions, further defining the mode of nutrient transfer risk for farming stakeholders and providing policy makers with sharper instruments for water quality management. These multiple objectives take place within an environment of economic expediencies to adapt and increase agricultural production in certain sectors within the constraints of the Nitrates Directive - and the ACP experimental design is functioning to monitor and advise on the likely impacts and required supplementary mitigation measures.