The trans-national Neagh-Bann International River Basin (NBIRB) covers an area in both the UK and Ireland. The majority of the Basin (70%) contains the River Bann catchment which drains through the large, freshwater Lough Neagh (385 km2) to the north coast of Northern Ireland. The remainder of the Basin contains a series of catchments that drain to the Irish Sea via a series of sea lochs and estuaries in both countries. This area contains the large towns of Newry (NI) and Dundalk (ROI). In both countries livestock farming accounts for roughly 70-80% of the total area of land with numerous small farms. The average farm size in NI is 41 ha with an average income of €30,300. Many farmers have no formal agricultural training and so access to extension and advisory services are essential to support and improve on-farm nutrient management.  Recently (2015) only 27.1% of river waterbodies and none of the 10 lakes (25% of the total of 214) in the NI part of the river basin are achieving the target of ‘Good Status’ or higher required under the WFD, with phosphorus inputs from agriculture highlighted as the single biggest cause of failures. 42% of waterbodies are below the targets required for good water quality due to elevated P levels.  The majority of these are located in areas of high agricultural intensity, 47% of agricultural soils have a P concentration above the optimum for grassland and pose a significant threat to water quality.

nh study sites