Huge turnout of farmers for water quality solutions event in West Cork

8 people representing the Carbery organisers and members of the panel at the Carbery Slurry Solutions event in Rosscarbery on 25 June

West Cork, 26 June 2024. A large crowd of farmers and agri-sector representatives gathered in the Celtic Ross Hote in Rosscarbery this week to discuss solutions for slurry storage and usage, to ultimately promote better water quality. There was a panel discussion at the event, as well as suppliers, co-ops, financial institutions and companies, all willing to support farmers interested in proactively managing their slurry.

The panel, comprising of Ted Massey, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, William Burchill, UCC, and Pat Tuohy, Teagasc, each gave a presentation that outlined their area of expertise and fielded questions from the large crowd after their discussion.  The panel was moderated by Don Crowley of Teagasc Cork West.

Enda Buckley, Director of Sustainability for Carbery, opened the event and stated “ We know that there is a will to do the right thing when it comes to water quality and managing slurry, and our farmer shareholders are looking for guidance on how best to do this. We wanted to bring this event together to connect farmers with the companies who can offer solutions, the institutions who can finance, and the experts who can advise on the best way to achieve improvements. My sincere thanks to the panel for their time and expertise.”

William Burchill presented his research on new and emerging technologies that can help to manage slurry on farm, and Pat Tuohy presented research collected to date on a project Teagasc is leading at the Department’s request, to measure slurry storage and decide whether allocated limits are enough. The project is tracking slurry on 100 farms around the country, with fundings to be released in Spring 2025.

The question session after the panel saw lots of interest from the audience, with credit due to the panel for their honesty and openness. Ted Massey explained that we have a social responsibility to improve water quality, and that with improvements, he was sure we would maintain our derogation. He stated “Farmers need to get from a situation where they can choose to manage their slurry versus trying to manage the level of slurry in a tank so they can get the best out of it, reduce their costs in terms of chemical fertiliser, but also reduce the loss of nutrients to water. That has to be a key part of our strategy to future proof our industry.”

Attendees did focus on their frustration at the lack of clear roadmap ahead for farmers who need to reduce their stocking numbers, plan to invest in more storage or make other upgrades.  They asked for clarity from government and the sector, and also supports that were easier to access and would cover more of the investment costs needed.

Closing the event, Vincent O’Donovan, Chair of Carbery, commended those who were in attendance for their interest in proactive solutions for slurry and water quality and thanked the panel for their engagement.


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