Funded by: EPA Research & Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
The objective of this project is to evaluate the extent, connectivity and nature of roadways and their role in nutrient transport. In time the project will devise and test mitigation strategies including best management practices and engineering solutions.
Achieving Water Framework Directive water quality goals requires reductions in nutrient point and diffuse sources, and mitigation of pathways delivering those nutrients to surface receptors. Farm roadways receive high concentrations of animal deposition and may have significant connectivity to receptors. Roadways have been little investigated relative to field areas with respect to their role in nutrient transport. Under the Nitrates Action Plan (NAP) all direct runoff from farm roadways to surface water or dry ditches will be prohibited from 2021.
- To comply with the NAP discharge must be limited either by: preventing runoff generation (which is not always possible during high rainfall events)
- by breaking the hydrologic connection to a watercourse by routing it to a suitable percolation area such as a field
This creates an imperative to adapt existing roadways which fail to meet the NAP criteria and to disseminate guidelines specifying the effective design of all new roadways.
The NAP indicates that ‘It will be necessary for the farmer, usually in consultation with the advisor, to determine the sections of farm roadways that require altering to prevent losses to waters.’ Farm roadways are well suited to the introduction of new best management practices or infrastructure improvements without negatively impacting stocking rate, overall herd numbers or land management. However, in the absence of a specific framework of characterisation it may prove difficult to ensure consistency of approach and selection of the optimal mitigation measure to each individual scenario. While guidance on the construction of roadways has been produced, this offers limited information on the repair, maintenance and improvement of existing roadways. It is focused on the influence of roadway condition on cattle lameness, rather than their role in hydrology and nutrient transport.
ROADRUNNER will evaluate the extent, connectivity and nature of roadways and their role in nutrient transport and in time will devise and test mitigation strategies including best management practices and engineering solutions.
ROADRUNNER Project Partners:
Owen Fenton – Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford
Karen Daly – Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford
Pat Tuohy – Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy Co. Cork
University of Limerick:
Dr John Murnane –Faculty of Science and Engineering