The impact of cattle drinking points on aquatic macroinvertebrates in streams in south-east Ireland

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Madden, D.
Harrison, Simon
Finn, J. A.
hUallacháin, D.
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Measures that prevent cattle access to watercourses are commonly implemented through agri-environment schemes, in an effort to address the objectives of the Water Framework Directive. Despite the widespread implementation, few studies have assessed the impact of cattle access to streams on aquatic macroinvertebrates. This study assessed the local-scale impact of cattle drinking points on water quality parameters (i.e. macroinvertebrate and water chemistry metrics) on 39 intensively-managed grassland farms in the south-east of Ireland. The results indicate that sites that were more than or equal to good quality upstream of cattle drinking points, were more susceptible to cattle access impacts than sites where upstream water quality was less than good. The European Court of Auditors (2011) recommended that there should be a higher rate of EU contribution for measures with higher environmental potential, in this instance, for cattle exclusion measures targeted to sites where background quality is more than or equal to good. Appropriate efforts should thus be made to incentivise farmers in good to high status sites to adopt cattle exclusion measures.
Agriculture , Agri-environment schemes , Aquatic macroinvertebrates , Water Framework Directive , Water quality
Madden, D., Harrison, S., Finn, J. A. and hUallacháin, D. (2019) 'The impact of cattle drinking points on aquatic macroinvertebrates in streams in south-east Ireland', Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research, 58, pp. 13-20. (7pp.) DOI: 10.2478/ijafr-2019-0002