Pilot Farm Environmental Study (FES)

This pilot will establish a framework to generate a database of baseline habitat and biodiversity data at the farm-level and will provide the scope for an inventory of farm habitats and biodiversity present and a baseline for future targeting of agri-environmental schemes and measures.

The Pilot Stage of FES will focus on the roll out of farm level habitat surveys on approximately 6,500 farms.

The Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) will coordinate the roll out of this survey

The FES advisor training module will commence shortly, and the measure will open to farmers in quarter 1 2022. Farm surveys will be carried out over the spring and summer 2022.

Results and outputs of the pilot survey will be presented to the Department in Q4 of 2022


Gap Analysis Interim Briefing Note

Source: EPA

This interim briefing note has been prepared by the EPA Catchments Unit for DHLGH. The aim of this interim briefing note is to provide an overview of the number of waterbodies that are impacted by activities relevant to DAFM, and to highlight the issues (e.g. P, N, sediment) that measures must target to improve water quality and meet Water Framework Directive (WFD) environmental objectives. Assuming all necessary measures are implemented, the note also provides a projection on the number of waterbodies where water quality can be improved and also the number of waterbodies where these measures will lead to waterbodies achieving their environmental objective.

As the note is an interim note, and the analysis is based on draft characterisation data and draft Pollution Impact Potential maps, some values may change, but overall the document provides a general overview of the extent of action that is required and what this action can achieve.

This note focuses on three distinct sections relevant to DAFM: Agriculture, Forestry and Land drainage/Channelisation

Observations from EU on the CAP Strategic Plans submitted by Member States

Published plans


On Monday 4 April, the European Commission published a document providing an overview of its observations following the assessment of 19 national strategic plans on the implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

On 31 March, the Commission services sent observation letters on 19 draft CAP strategic plans submitted


ES,SW,NL,IT published below

Slovenia made it available to stakeholders

Irish Min promised to share it

Austria published just selected elements of the observation letter on their web

FR letter leaked to media

Observations on the CAP Strategic Plan submitted by Spain

Observations on the CAP Strategic Plan submitted by Sweden


Observations on the CAP Strategic Plan submitted by the Netherlands

Osservazioni sul piano strategico della PAC presentato dall’Italia

[no English translation available]

Incidents of agricultural pollution in Northern Ireland rivers from 2017 to 2021

How many incidents of agricultural pollution have been recorded in Northern Ireland rivers from 1st of January 2017 to the 30th of April 2021? (please include impact i.e. high, low)

a. Of those incidents how many resulted in a prosecution
b. Of those incidents how many resulted in a penalty / fine
c. Of those incidents how were they dealt with? (warning letters etc.)

During the date range specified in the query there were:
– 1023 Low Severity Incidents (605 where the polluter was identified and 418 where there was no polluter identified);
– 247 Medium Severity Incidents (189 where the polluter was identified and 58 where there was no polluter identified); and

– 39 High Severity Incidents (20 where the polluter was identified and 19 where there was no polluter identified)

Nationwide hazardous farm waste collection scheme

A scheme which will see farm hazardous waste collected from designated drop-off points nationwide is expected to be operational by 2024, should the timeframe set out in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Hazardous Waste Management Plan for 2021-2027 be followed.

he scheme will see the collection of potentially hazardous materials, such as empty pesticide containers, veterinary medicine waste and used oil, from centres scattered throughout the country.

The EPA’s waste management plan estimated that there is in the region of 7,378t of hazardous wastes, excluding used batteries and electronic goods, currently stockpiled on farms.


Fifth Nitrates Action Programme 2022-2025

The Programme sets out new measures that have been introduced since the Fourth Programme.

Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme is given effect by the European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2022 (S.I. No. 113 of 2022). The regulations contain specific measures to protect surface waters and groundwater from nutrient pollution arising from agricultural sources.

The Fifth Nitrates Action Programme was developed following an initial public consultation, which was held in late 2020, and a second consultation period that concluded in September 2021. A third consultation period focused on the draft Natura Impact Statement and draft Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Programme was concluded on January 2022. Approximately 700 submissions were received during the three consultation periods and these have informed the final Programme.

What’s new in the Programme?

There have been a number of measures strengthened and added to the Programme since the Fourth Nitrates Action Programme and include the following:

  • Register of Chemical Fertiliser Sales to be established by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) for 2023
  • Improving Compliance and Enforcement –The EPA will develop and implement a National Agricultural Inspection Programme for local authorities. These inspections will be more targeted and risk-based with a stronger focus on compliance and follow-up enforcement. DAFM will increase derogation inspections from 5 to 10%
  • Slurry and Soil Water Storage and Management – dates of closed period extended
  • Livestock Excretion Rates – Three new excretion rate bands are being introduced which will be calculated as 80kg/ha, 92 kg/ha and 106 kg/ha. This means that to remain below the maximum permitted organic nitrogen loads of 250 kg/ha in derogation, there will have to be less cows per ha
  • Chemical Fertiliser Control – This will start with 10% reduction of chemical nitrogen applied nationally and may be increased to a 15% reduction nationally after the midterm interim review of the programme
  • Sewage/Industrial Sludges – There will be a review of management and oversight
  • P Build-Up – This is available to farmers above 130kg/ha
  • Green Cover on Tillage Ground – To reduce any potential losses of nutrients post-harvest cultativation/ crop sewing will happen within tighter timelines. Further measures will be introduced in the coming months to address concerns on loss of feeding areas for birds
  • Crude Protein in Concentrate Feeds – a maximum crude protein content of 15% is allowed in concentrate feedstuff fed to grazing livestock between 15 April and 30 September
  • Organic Matter Determination – from 2022, all soils greater than 20% Organic Matter are required to be soil tested for Organic Matter
  • Soil Tests are compulsory for holding above 170kg/ha by 2022, and by 2023 for holdings above 130kg/ha and for sown arable land
  • Grazing Land Management – for nutrient planning the stocking rate for commonage is 50kg/ha and * Review of technical tables –Some tables have been updated with the most recent scientific evidence and some tables will be updated in time for the interim review when the scientific evidence is available
  • Phased approach for Low Emission Slurry Spreading (2023-2025) for farms above 100kg/ha and must also be used for the application of pig slurry
  • Interim Review of the Programme within 2 years.

An Overview of Ireland’s Fifth Nitrates Action Programme

Ireland’s Fifth Nitrates Action Programme – Natura Impact Statement

Ireland’s Fifth Nitrates Action Programme – SEA Statement

Ireland’s Fifth Nitrates Action Programme – Determination on Appropriate Assessment

Clooneigh Priority Area for Action Desktop Report

Nov 2019


Agriculture was identified as the significant pressure on the Clooneigh_010 and Clooneigh_020 while
Anthropogenic pressures were identified on the Keelcurragh_010

Some intensive farms in the area

Moher Bog: large area of peat extraction

Impacts on water quality arising from peat extraction and drainage include the release of ammonium and fine-grained suspended sediments. Silt ponds serving the operational bogs are required to adhere to conditions in the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) Licence for the protection of surface waters and groundwater. Silt ponds are required to be cleaned as a minimum twice a year, once before ditching and once before harvesting, and more frequently as inspections may dictate.

Jiggy (Hind) Priority Area for Action Desktop Report

Jan 2020



Landfill waste (Roscommon Landfill, closed)

Urban Run-off

Combined sewer overflows

The main pathway in the urban environment will be pipes in the form of primary or secondary discharges from WwTp, Combined Sewer overflows, pumping stations and misconnections.

Hydromorphology (the river has been heavily modified for flood risk)