Teagasc ASSAP External Review Report 2021

Draft River Basin Management Plan 2022-2027 notes that “clarity is needed on the future role and scope of ASSAP”

As a result, an assessment of the programme is currently being prepared by Teagasc to be carried out by a panel of external experts.”

The assessment will review, examine, evaluate, comment and report on the rationale, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of ASSAP to date, along with recommendations for the future and its role and objectives under the third-cycle plan.

The assessment is due for completion before the end of 2021 and in time to influence any specific requirements for inclusion in the next plan.

ASSAP is also looking at ways of capturing data and actions from the advice given to farmers, especially spatial data, while retaining farmer confidentiality

AIE: copy of submissions to consultants and copy of final (13/3/22)

Note: fastest turnaround on an AIE ever, under 24hours !

External Expert Assessment of the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP)

Membership of the Review Panel:
Chair: Prof Rory O’Donnell (Geary Institute, University College Dublin);
Dr Matt Crowe (former Director EPA);
Prof Phil Jordan (Professor of Catchment Science, Ulster University);
Mr Harold Kingston (dairy farmer and Munster Regional Chair of the Irish Farmers Association);
Dr Trish Murphy (Inishowen Rivers Trust);
Ms Orlaith Tynan (Head of Sustainability, Dairygold)

Steering Group:
Joe Crockett Dairy Sustainability Ireland
Billy Cronin Dairygold
Ray Spain LAWPRO
Carol McCarthy LAWPRO
Karl Cashen Tipperary Co Council
Colin Byrne DHLGH
Graham McGovern DHLGH
Donal Grant DHLGH
Jack Nolan DAFM
Bernard Harris DAFM
Jenny Deakin EPA
Mary Gurrie EPA
Pat Murphy Teagasc
Noel Meehan Teagasc

High-Level Findings and Recommendations

1. Develop and expand ASSAP: ASSAP should be further developed under the 3rd RBMP, expanding as additional PAAs are selected, with appropriate scientific support. Communications expertise should be engaged to consider naming, branding and promotional issues.
2. ASSAP should continue to focus primarily on water quality in the PAAs: Its objectives should be simplified to focus more on supporting farmers’ implementation of the right actions in the right place and demonstration of their impact on water quality.
3. Funding to support farmers’ implementation of Actions: Financial support, external to the ASSAP, needs to be available to enable farmers implement agreed actions recommended by ASSAP advisors.
4. Enhance the mainstream advisory services: The further development of ASSAP needs be accompanied by an accelerated enhancement and refocusing of the mainstream advisory services (both public and private) with a stronger focus on sustainability (economic, social and environmental) and on-farm and action-based engagement.
5. Continuous diagnostic review: the diagnostic flow-chart, designed jointly by ASSAP and LAWPRO staff, should be adopted formally as a tool for short-cycle assessment, review of progress in a PAA and identification of necessary network partners.
6. Spatial recording of recommendations and actions: ASSAP, supported by its partners organisations, should complete the move towards spatial recording of recommendations and actions taken.
7. Safe spaces to enhance transparency of the right actions in the right place and their impact: Use selected waterbodies as a safe space to explore and refine demonstration of the right actions in the right place and their impact on water quality.
8. Catchment-scale engagement, capacity building and planning: work to enhance the strength and capacity of catchment-level networks, so that catchment protection and management becomes embedded.
9. Funding of ASSAP: maintain the balance of funding from government and industry as ASSAP expands, keeping the relative contribution of each under review.
10. Demonstrating impact, informing policy and research: ASSAP should work with partner organisations to inform policy learning and research projects that are appropriate to experimental governance, linking iterative monitoring and review to higher-order long-term validation of the cumulative results of the overall approach to water governance.

Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) Interim Report #1 | 2018 – 2019

The first Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) interim report focuses on the establishment and implementation of the ASSAP in 2018 and interaction with farmers up until the 31st December 2019. The ASSAP programme is a key part of a wider government and community effort to improve water quality in 190 selected water bodies around the country by reducing agricultural and non-agricultural pressures.

The ASSAP advisory service is a sectoral/industry wide collaborative approach to improving water quality in Ireland. Established as part of Ireland’s 2nd River Basin Management Plan (RBMP), it has adopted a changed philosophy from the regulatory ‘one size fits all’ approach towards a new engagement based approach with farmers.

AIE: SEA Article 10 Monitoring


DAFM response

No formal report regarding the SEA

Reports submitted annually to EU in respect of the Nitrates Derogation, which also contains information on general compliance with the Nitrates regulations, information from the Agricultural Catchments programme (administered by Teagasc) and EPA reports

AIEs on LAWPRO Desk Studies, In-stream Assessments, Action Plans, Ag Referrals, Referrals Register, Monitoring progress in Ag Referrals, and Annual Reports

AIEs (6/2/22)

1) List of catchments with desk studies for 2019, 2020, 2021, and what desk studies are planned for 2022

Note: LAWPRO 2019 Annual Report states that 121 PAAs assessed out of a total of 189. Less than 15 desk studies have been published to date

2) List of catchments with In-stream Assessments (please note if the assessments are completed or in progress)

Note: LAWPRO 2019 Annual Report states that 90 assessments completed out of a total of 189. None have been published to date

3) List of Action Plans (please note if the Action Plans are completed or in progress) for example, 2019 report says 45 Action Plans prepared (number of Action Plans prepared in 2020 and 2021 unknown)

4) List of Ag Referrals from LAWPRO to Teagasc

5) Details on LAWPRO process, system or register in place to track referrals from LAWPRO to Teagasc (referenced in 2019 LAWPRO Annual Report)

6) Details on monitoring proof of concept for Ag catchments – how are Ag catchments selected / listed, and what monitoring is available to measure progress ?

7) Copy of 2020 LAWPRO annual report

Servicing of the Teagasc Agricultural Catchments Programme Water Quality Monitoring Stations

RFT 207186 – C2658

The specification for the Service Contract for the Teagasc Agricultural Catchments Programme water quality monitoring equipment at each of the following Outlet Stations:

o Castledockrell (Co. Wexford),
o Ballycanew (Co. Wexford),
o Dunleer (Co .Louth),
o Corduff (Co. Monaghan),
o Cregduff (Co. Mayo),
o Timoleague (Co .Cork)

Who’s Who in the Teagasc ASSAP

ASSAP – Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme is free confidential advisory service to help improve farmers water quality.

NameEmailLandlineMobileWork Location
Claire MooneyClaire.Mooney@teagasc.ie067-44953087-7935643Tipperary
Deirdre GlynnDeirdre.Glynn@teagasc.ie056-7789359087-0998052Kilkenny
Eamonn AveryEamonn.Avery@teagasc.ie071-9189409086 8722091Sligo/Leitrim
Eamonn GraceEamonn.Grace@teagasc.ie059-9183529087-8183496Wexford
Paula BrownePaula.Browne@teagasc.ie065-9080274087-2026001Clare
Eimear ConneryEimear.Connery@teagasc.ie022-52361087-9053198Cork East
Fiona DoolanFiona.Doolan@teagasc.ie045-899785087-2585022Kildare/Laois
Ivan KellyIvan.Kelly@teagasc.ie091-845858087-9690610Galway
David WebsterDavid.Webster@teagasc.ie044-9333007087-9843022Offaly/Westmeath
Kevin OSullivanKevin.OSullivan@teagasc.ie064-6621719087-4190221Kerry
Kieran KennyKieran.Kenny@teagasc.ie094-9625086087-2947197Roscommon/Longford
Lane GilesLane.Giles@teagasc.ie028-40272087-3694388Cork West
Mary RoacheMary.Roache@teagasc.ie098-50258087-1227990Mayo
Meabh O’ HaganMeabh.Ohagan@teagasc.ie051-644413087-6535129Dublin/Louth/Meath
Padraig FitzgeraldPadraig.Fitzgerald@teagasc.ie063-31237087-2074890Limerick
Peter ComerPeter.Comer@teagasc.ie094-9372334087-6949079Mayo
Shaun P. RoartyShaun.P.Roarty@teagasc.ie0749-190019087-1192673Donegal
Vincent O’ConnorVincent.OConnor@teagasc.ie059-9183523087-9330116Carlow/Wicklow
Cathal SomersCathal.Somers@teagasc.ie053-9171344086-3614691Waterford
Domhnall KennedyDomhnall.Kennedy@teagasc.ie049-4338636087-1218752Cavan/Monaghan
Noel MeehanNoel.Meehan@teagasc.ie090-9648186086-3801524ASSAP Programme Manager
Yvonne MaherYvonne.Maher@teagasc.ie059-9170265 ASSAP Administrator

Enable Conservation Tillage (ECT) – Wider Adoption of Sustainable Conservation Tillage Systems

Total budget: 1,000,000 Euro

Main funding sourceRural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)
Project typeOperational group
Starting date2018
End date2023
Project statusOngoing

Conservation Agriculture (CA) practices provides opportunities to reduce costs and have environmental benefits however it adoption is hampered by grass weeds in Ireland.

The project aims to enable the adoption of conservation agriculture practices on Irish tillage farms, by providing farmers with the knowledge skills and capacity to achieve effective grass weed control and prioritise farmer to farmer knowledge and innovation exchange.  The project will put a strong focus on validation and demonstration on growers own fields, using large scale validation trials in multiple locations maximising peer to peer knowledge transfer.

Description of activities: 

-Develop an innovation hub with farmers central, and linked to stakeholders, including seed assemblers, merchants, farm advisors, researchers and herbicide manufacturers, with a focus on solving the grass weed challenge thereby enabling the adoption of CA.

-Work with 10 arable farms with different cultivation systems and grass weeds who will co-develop techniques for grass weed control and practical aids to quantify and control grass weed populations

-Determine the factors that impact on grass weed prevalence on farms

-Evaluating cover crops as a grass weed control measure

-Establish the level and source of grass weed herbicide resistance

-Assess and demonstrate novel weed control approaches

Description of the context of the project: 

Across many regions of the world, Conservation Agriculture (CA) techniques (or Conservation Tillage), which incorporate less intensive soil cultivation, have been adopted to reduce production costs and to improve sustainability. 

Irish tillage farmers have been reluctant to adopt CA techniques however because of concerns about grass weeds and crop establishment in a mild, wetter climate. This lack of engagement threatens the sustainability and competitiveness of arable crop production in Ireland. Additional information: 

The expected results and practical recommendations of the ECT Project are:

Improved farmer and industry knowledge about the level of the grass weed challenge and management factors which influence grass weed proliferation.
Improved adoption of sustainable grass weed control measures across all crop production systems; conservation agriculture and conventional crop establishment.
Increased adoption of conservation agriculture techniques facilitated by enhanced weed control measures by tillage farmers.
Demonstration of the effectiveness of farmer-centred activities, such as demonstrations, validation trials and case studies, as suitable technology transfer tools for challenges requiring complex practical actions.
Publication of a set of practical farmer aids/tools to help quantify grass weed problems, identify solutions and the best way to combine options to control the grass weed in the identified establishment system.
Identification of obstacles which hinder weed control at farm level for specific establishment systems, and of specific solutions to overcome the obstacles.
National picture of herbicide resistance with practical recommendations for farmers to deal with resistance or to prevent resistance development as appropriate.
Determining the role of new practices such as remote sensing images and alternative weed destruction techniques.
Developing a stronger social fabric among arable farmers and the industry through the pursuit of a common goal to solving a series of complex problems.

Contact person: Michael Hennessy

Address: Teagasc, Oak Park, Co. Carlow

E-mail: michael.hennessy@teagasc.ie

Phone: 00353 76 1111227


Farming for Nature: The Role of Results-Based Payments – National Parks & Wildlife Service

Farming for Nature: the role of results-based payments is an edited book that collates several Irish experiences of developing and applying results-based approaches for the conservation of farmland biodiversity. This book is intended for an international audience of practitioners, policymakers and academics interested in results-based approaches for the conservation of biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services.

Results-based approaches are the focus of a growing discussion about improved biodiversity conservation and environmental performance of EU agri-environmental policies.

Published by Teagasc and the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 2020, this book outlines lessons learned from a collection of Irish case studies that have implemented results-based approaches and payments for the conservation of farmland habitats and species.

The case studies include prominent projects and programmes: the Burren Programme, AranLIFE, KerryLIFE, the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme and Result-Based Agri-environmental Payment Schemes (RBAPS) project.

The case studies and accompanying chapters share some of the Irish experience in developing results-based approaches by, for example, providing actual farm plans and scoring sheets, as well as detailing governance mechanisms, the role of advisory services, the choice of indicators, monitoring details and the relationship between results and payment.

The book also includes reflections on the scientific background to results-based approaches and their policy context. It concludes by asking: where do we go from here?


Download the book in PDF format

Each chapter is available to download individually by clicking on the links below.

Chapter 1: Farming for Nature: Result-based Agri-Environment Schemes
This introductory chapter elaborates the aims of the book, the brief for contributors, and introduces the separate chapters.

Chapter 2: Overview of European Agri-Environment measures with emphasis on a Result-based Approach
Provides a critique of European CAP agri-environment policies, and considers the advantages and disadvantages of action-based and results-based approaches to the delivery of agri-environment schemes.

Chapter 3: Farming for Conservation in the Burren
Building on over twenty years’ experience in High Nature Value farmland, this chapter details the evolution, design and successful implementation of the first locally-led result-based agri-environment programme in Ireland – The Burren Programme.
Further information available at www.burrenprogramme.com.

Chapter 4: Farming for Conservation on the Aran Islands
The AranLIFE project team detail the Aran habitats of priority conservation value and the linked farming practices necessary for their maintenance. They outline the project design, the choice of indicators, field scoring sheets, validation of results and payment system.
Further information available at www.caomhnuaranneip.ie.

Chapter 5: The KerryLIFE freshwater pearl mussel conservation project
This chapter describes the development and demonstration of result-based and incentivised measures to better manage the conservation of the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel in lowland and upland farms in Co. Kerry.
Further information available at www.kerrylife.ie.

Chapter 6: The Results-based Agri-Environment Payment Scheme (RBAPS) Pilot in Ireland
This chapter outlines the RBAPS (Result-Based Agri-Environment Payment Scheme) project.
It developed and trialled results-based methods for six different biodiversity targets in Ireland, and this chapter describes the objectives, scoring systems, management guidelines and results-based payments.
Further information available at www.rbaps.eu.

Chapter 7: The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Farm Plan Scheme
The NPWS outline the main purpose of the Farm Plan Scheme, and how it promotes a focussed, targeted and innovative approach to farming for habitats and species of conservation concern in some of Ireland’s most important biodiversity areas.
Further information available on the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme page on this website.

Chapter 8: Policy Environment: Ecosystem services and the role of Results-based
This chapter brings the discussion back to programme design and policy evaluation, and reflects on the opportunities and challenges in developing efficient payments for an ecosystem services approach. 

Chapter 9: Synthesis and reflections on selected results-based approaches in Ireland
This synthesis chapter collates and restates the key findings and lessons learned from the case studies. It discusses the complementarity that may be achieved between action-based and result-based hybrid approaches, considers the different approaches to structuring the relationship between payment and performance. It considers the future challenges in operationalising results-based approaches within national and European contexts.