A collaborative initiative between government and industry, called the Agricultural Sustainability, Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP), has been put in place to support the implementation of best agricultural practice at farm level in the PAAs and to help address agricultural pressures on water quality.

ASSAP is jointly funded by DAFM, DHLGH and the dairy industry. Its advisory services are provided jointly by Teagasc and the Dairy Processing Co-ops. It has received strong support from the main farming organisations.

The role of the ASSAP advisor is to complement the scientific work of LAWPRO by:
(a) providing farmers with a free, confidential and voluntary advisory service
(b) providing farm specific assessments and plans to prevent the loss of nutrients, sediment and pesticides from entering waters
(c) to disseminate key water quality messages to the wider agricultural community.

For more information please visit the Teagasc website

New Approach

The Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) is an innovative collaboration between Government and industry to promote and encourage sustainable farming while meeting stringent water quality requirements.
It is a new approach to achieving improvement in water quality involving the establishment and joint funding between DAFM, DHLGH and the dairy industry of a resource of 30 Agricultural Sustainability Advisors

Where will ASSAP be working?

The 30 ASSAP advisors will be working alongside LAWPRO in the 189 priority areas for action in the 2nd cycle.

Why is there a need?

Agriculture is the biggest land use in Ireland, and it is also the biggest pressure on water quality.

The advisors will proactively advise and work with farmers to protect and improve water quality. ASSAP will draw on the experience and resources of key sectoral and industry stakeholders including the two Departments, the local authorities, the Dairy Co-ops, Teagasc, Bord Bia and the farm organisations.

How does it work?

ASSAP is designed to work closely with the farming community in each catchment. Scientists from LAWPRO assess the rivers and streams in each PAA and the ASSAP advisors then work closely with the farmers, providing them with a free and confidential advisory service. Use of the service is on a voluntary basis.

What service is provided?

Three main areas that will be looked at on farm are:

  • Improved nutrient management with more targeted use of slurry and fertiliser.
  • New approaches to land management to reduce nutrient losses in critical source areas.
  • Better farmyard management and practices.

At the end of a visit, the advisor and farmer will agree on where the farmer should focus improvements or actions, if any are required, on the farm. The practical advice will be designed to ‘break the pathway’ and prevent nutrients, sediment and pesticides from entering the water.