Water Innovation Network

The water innovation network (WIN) is a group of farmers from the Ballinderry catchment and experts in agriculture, water quality and innovation. 

The mission is defined:

“We are seeking WIN WIN solutions – innovative ways to make farms more productive, profitable or efficient that also protect and improve water quality.”


Water poses a constant management problem for farmers in Northern Ireland (NI). On average around 1000mm of precipitation falls on every square meter of NI each year. If not adequately diverted and/or collected, this water makes its way across farms picking up contaminants, such as nutrients, chemicals and soil.  Agricultural contamination of watercourses often results in legal action against the farmer, resulting in fines, loss of subsidies and even custodial sentences. In 2017, farming accounted for the largest proportion (30%) of substantiated water pollution incidents investigated by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, not only impacting the environment but causing reputational damage to the farming sector and NI-Agri-produce.  Mismanagement of water costs farm businesses time and money, where profit margins are already tight and time in short supply, especially with part-time farmers.

There are a lot of ideas and technologies on how water pollution from farms could be reduced or prevented, but our experience in the Ballinderry River over the last 25 years is that, these are often not readily or widely taken up by farmers because they are not well understood; are too costly; require long-term maintenance; inhibit productivity on the farm or they do not provide any benefit to the farm business.

This project is a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project and is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and DAERA. The project aims to identify and trial solutions to these barriers by developing innovative and integrated win-win solutions for rivers and farm businesses, using nature-based, productive, solutions that protect the water environment whilst maintaining and improving productivity and profitability of the farm business.

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