Johnstown Castle is Ireland’s leading research centre for soils and the rural environment. The centre conducts research on soils; nutrient efficiency; recovery and losses; air and water quality; the agricultural environment and agro-ecology. The research results generated are used widely by advisors, farmers, scientists and policy makers.

Recent Submissions

  • Exposure of Agaricus bisporus to Trichoderma aggressivum f. europaeum leads to growth inhibition and induction of an oxidative stress response

    Kosanovic, Dejana; Grogan, Helen; Kavanagh, Kevin; Science Foundation Ireland; Irish Research Council; 12/RI/2346.; GOIPD/2018/115 (Elsevier, 2020-07-23)
    Green mould disease of mushroom, Agaricus bisporus,is caused by Trichodermaspecies and can result in substantial crop losses.Label free proteomic analysis of changes in the abundance of A. bisporusproteins following exposure to T. aggressivumsupernatantin vitroindicated increased abundance of proteins associated with an oxidative stress response (zinc ion binding (+6.6 fold); peroxidase activity (5.3-fold); carboxylic ester hydrolase (+2.4 fold); dipeptidase (+3.2 fold); [2Fe-2S] cluster assembly (+3.3 fold)). Proteins that decreased in relative abundance were associated with growth: structural constituent of ribosome, translation (-12 fold), deadenylation-dependent decapping of nuclear-transcribed mRNA (-3.4 fold), and small GTPase mediated signal transduction (-2.6 fold). In vivoanalysis revealed that 10-4 T. aggressivuminoculum decreased the mushroom yield by 29% to 56% and 10-3 T. aggressivuminoculum decreased the mushroom yield by 68% to 100%. Proteins that increased in abundance in A. bisporusin vivofollowing exposure to T. aggressivumindicated an oxidative stress response and included proteins with pyruvate kinase activity (+2.6 fold) and hydrolase activity (+2.1 fold)). The results indicate that exposure of A. bisporusmycelium to T. aggressivum in vitroand in vivoresulted in an oxidative stress response and reduction in growth.
  • An investigation of anticoccidial veterinary drugs as emerging organic contaminants in groundwater

    Mooney, D.; Richards, Karl G.; Danaher, Martin; Grant, Jim; Gill, L.; Mellander, Per‐Erik; Coxon, C.E.; Science Foundation Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 13/RC/2092,; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-07-26)
    Intensification of the food production system to meet increased global demand for food has led to veterinary pharmaceuticals becoming a critical component in animal husbandry. Anticoccidials are a group of veterinary products used to control coccidiosis in food-producing animals, with primary prophylactic use in poultry production. Excretion in manure and subsequent land-spreading provides a potential pathway to groundwater. Information on the fate and occurrence of these compounds in groundwater is scant, therefore these substances are potential emerging organic contaminants of concern. A study was carried out to investigate the occurrence of anticoccidial compounds in groundwater throughout the Republic of Ireland. Twenty-six anticoccidials (6 ionophores and 20 synthetic anticoccidials) were analysed at 109 sites (63 boreholes and 46 springs) during November and December 2018. Sites were categorised and selected based on the following source and pathway factors: (a) the presence/absence of poultry activity (b) predominant aquifer category and (c) predominant groundwater vulnerability, within the zone of contribution (ZOC) for each site. Seven anticoccidials, including four ionophores (lasalocid, monensin, narasin and salinomycin) and three synthetic anticoccidials (amprolium, diclazuril and nicarbazin), were detected at 24% of sites at concentrations ranging from 1 to 386 ng L−1. Monensin and amprolium were the two most frequently detected compounds, detected at 15% and 7% of sites, respectively. Multivariate statistical analysis has shown that source factors are the most significant drivers of the occurrence of anticoccidials, with no definitive relationships between occurrence and pathway factors. The study found that the detection of anticoccidial compounds is 6.5 times more likely when poultry activity is present within the ZOC of a sampling point, compared to the absence of poultry activity. This work presents the first detections of these contaminants in Irish groundwater and it contributes to broadening our understanding of the environmental occurrence and fate of anticoccidial veterinary products.
  • A review of the pesticide MCPA in the land‐water environment and emerging research needs

    Morton, Phoebe A.; Fennell, Chris; Cassidy, Rachel; Doody, Donnacha; Fenton, Owen; Mellander, Per‐Erik; Jordan, Phil; European Union; 727450; IVA5018 (Wiley, 2019-12-03)
    Due to its high solubility and poor adsorption to the soil matrix, the postemergence herbicide 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) is susceptible to transport into surface and groundwater bodies, where it can result in compromised water quality and breaches of legislative standards. However, there is still poor understanding of catchment scale dynamics and transport, particularly across heterogeneous hydrogeological settings. While it is known that MCPA degrades under aerobic conditions, negligible breakdown can occur in anaerobic environments, potentially creating a legacy in saturated soils. Fast runoff pathways post application are likely transport routes, but the relative contribution from the mobilization of legacy MCPA from anaerobic zones has yet to be quantified, making the delineation of MCPA sources encountered during monitoring programs challenging. While ecotoxicological effects have been examined, little is known about the interaction of MCPA (and its degradation products) with other pesticides, with nutrients or with colloids, and how this combines with environmental conditions to contribute to multiple stressor effects. We examine the state of MCPA knowledge, using case study examples from Ireland, and consider the implications of its widespread detection in waterbodies and drinking water supplies. Research themes required to ensure the sustainable and safe use of MCPA in an evolving agricultural, social and political landscape are identified here. These include the need to identify mitigation measures and/or alternative treatments, to gain insights into the conditions governing mobilization and attenuation, to map pathways of migration and to identify direct, synergistic and antagonistic ecotoxicological effects.
  • Ranking connectivity risk for phosphorus loss along agricultural drainage ditches

    Moloney, Thomas; Fenton, Owen; Daly, Karen; Irish Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 2017-W-LS-15 (Elsevier BV, 2020-02)
    Agricultural drainage systems comprising both in-field pipe drains and surface ditches are typically installed to remove excess water from agricultural land. These drainage networks can provide connectivity between phosphorus (P) sources and surface waters thereby increasing the risk of P loss to rivers and streams. The objective of this study was to derive a farm-scale drainage ranking that categorises drainage ditches in terms of P loss risk based on connectivity and physic-chemical characteristics. Ten pilot farms were selected to characterise drainage networks through ground survey and, sediment and water sampling. Five drainage ditch categories were derived based on landscape setting and connectivity. Each category recorded soluble and reactive P concentrations above environmental water quality standards. To assess the risk of surface ditches as a connectivity vector between agricultural P and surface waters ditches were ranked in order of P loss risk by integrating landscape position and sediment P chemistry. Elevated sediment P with high equilibrium P concentration (EPCo) were associated with ditches connected to farm yards, and in sediment sampled at ditch outlets, suggesting P deposition over time indicative of a legacy P source. The greatest risk of P loss was attributed to ditches connecting farm yards to streams, and ditches that connected the drainage network to surface waters, or Outlets. These results rank connectivity risk for P loss along agricultural drainage ditches for farm level risk assessment to target P loss mitigation measures to the appropriate locations.
  • Using a multi-dimensional approach for catchment scale herbicide pollution assessments

    Khan, Majid Ali; Costa, Fabiola Barros; Fenton, Owen; Jordan, Phil; Fennell, Chris; Mellander, Per-Erik; European Union; 727450 (Elsevier BV, 2020-12)
    Worldwide herbicide use in agriculture, whilst safeguarding yields also presents water quality issues. Controlling factors in agricultural catchments include both static and dynamic parameters. The present study investigated the occurrence of herbicides in streams and groundwater in two meso-scale catchments with contrasting flow controls and agricultural landuse (grassland and arable land). Using a multi-dimensional approach, streams were monitored from November 2018 to November 2019 using Chemcatcher® passive sampling devices and groundwater was sampled in 95 private drinking water wells. The concentrations of herbicides were larger in the stream of the Grassland catchment (8.9–472.6 ng L−1) dominated by poorly drained soils than in the Arable catchment (0.9–169.1 ng L−1) dominated by well-drained soils. Incidental losses of herbicides during time of application and low flows in summer caused concentrations of MCPA, Fluroxypyr, Trichlorpyr, Clopyralid and Mecoprop to exceeded the European Union (EU) drinking water standard due to a lack of dilution. Herbicides were present in the stream throughout the year and the total mass load was higher in winter flows, suggesting a persistence of primary chemical residues in soil and sub-surface environments and restricted degradation. Losses of herbicides to the streams were source limited and influenced by hydrological conditions. Herbicides were detected in 38% of surveyed drinking water wells. While most areas had concentrations below the EU drinking water standard some areas with well-drained soils in the Grassland catchment, had concentrations exceeding recommendations. Individual wells had concentrations of Clopyralid (619 ng L−1) and Trichlorpyr (650 ng L−1). Despite the study areas not usually associated with herbicide pollution, and annual mass loads being comparatively low, many herbicides were present in both surface and groundwater, sometimes above the recommendations for drinking water. This whole catchment assessment provides a basis to develop collaborative measures to mitigate pollution of water by herbicides.
  • The challenge of sustainability for Irish Agriculture

    Richards, Karl; Hanrahan, Kevin; Shalloo, Laurence; Ryan, Mary; Finnan, John; Murphy, Pat; Lanigan, Gary (2021-08-04)
    Presentation Overview • Introduction to Johnstown Castle • Ireland’s GHG/NH3 challenge • Scenarios for future emissions (without mitigation) • Mitigation pathways • GHG • NH3 • Water quality challenge • ACP highlights • New Ag. Sustainability Support & Advisory Prog.
  • What does Life-Cycle Assessment of agricultural products need for more meaningful inclusion of biodiversity?

    Teillard, Félix; Maia de Souza, Danielle; Thoma, Greg; Gerber, Pierre J.; Finn, John A. (Wiley, 2016-06-05)
    Decision‐makers increasingly use life‐cycle assessment (LCA) as a tool to measure the environmental sustainability of products. LCA is of particular importance in globalized agricultural supply chains, which have environmental effects in multiple and spatially dispersed locations. Incorporation of impacts on biodiversity that arise from agricultural production systems into environmental assessment methods is an emerging area of work in LCA, and current approaches have limitations, including the need for (i) improved assessment of impacts to biodiversity associated with agricultural production, (ii) inclusion of new biodiversity indicators (e.g. conservation value, functional diversity, ecosystem services) and (iii) inclusion of previously unaccounted modelling variables that go beyond land‐use impacts (e.g. climate change, water and soil quality). Synthesis and applications. Ecological models and understanding can contribute to address the limitations of current life‐cycle assessment (LCA) methods in agricultural production systems and to make them more ecologically relevant. This will be necessary to ensure that biodiversity is not neglected in decision‐making that relies on LCA.
  • Impact of P inputs on source-sink P dynamics of sediment along an agricultural ditch network

    Ezzati, G.; Fenton, Owen; Healy, M.G.; Christianson, L.; Feyereisen, G.W.; Thornton, S.; Chen, Q.; Fan, B.; Ding, J.; Daly, Karen; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-03)
    Phosphorus (P) loss from intensive dairy farms is a pressure on water quality in agricultural catchments. At farm scale, P sources can enter in-field drains and open ditches, resulting in transfer along ditch networks and delivery into nearby streams. Open ditches could be a potential location for P mitigation if the right location was identified, depending on P sources entering the ditch and the source-sink dynamics at the sediment-water interface. The objective of this study was to identify the right location along a ditch to mitigate P losses on an intensive dairy farm. High spatial resolution grab samples for water quality, along with sediment and bankside samples, were collected along an open ditch network to characterise the P dynamics within the ditch. Phosphorus inputs to the ditch adversely affected water quality, and a step change in P concentrations (increase in mean dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) from 0.054 to 0.228 mg L−1) midway along the section of the ditch sampled, signalled the influence of a point source entering the ditch. Phosphorus inputs altered sediment P sorption properties as P accumulated along the length of the ditch. Accumulation of bankside and sediment labile extractable P, Mehlich 3 P (M3P) (from 13 to 97 mg kg−1) resulted in a decrease in P binding energies (k) to < 1 L mg−1 at downstream points and raised the equilibrium P concentrations (EPC0) from 0.07 to 4.61 mg L−1 along the ditch. The increase in EPC0 was in line with increasing dissolved and total P in water, demonstrating the role of sediment downstream in this ditch as a secondary source of P to water. Implementation of intervention measures are needed to both mitigate P loss and remediate sediment to restore the sink properties. In-ditch measures need to account for a physicochemical lag time before improvements in water quality will be observed.
  • Efficacy of Woodchip Biochar and Brown Coal Waste as Stable Sorbents for Abatement of Bioavailable Cadmium, Lead and Zinc in Soil

    Amoah-Antwi, C.; Kwiatkowska-Malina, J.; Szara, E.; Thornton, S.; Fenton, Owen; Malina, G.; European Union; 675120 (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-10-03)
    Organic sorbents alter physicochemical soil properties and mitigate heavy metal (HM) bioavailability. However, some sorbents are labile and, therefore, introduce the risk of HM release into soil after mineralisation. Before field application, new stable organic sorbents such as woodchip biochar (BIO) and brown coal waste (BCW) need to be tested and compared with standard organic amendments like farmyard manure (FYM). An incubated pot experiment was conducted to investigate the efficacy of FYM, BIO and BCW (added to soil in pots at 5 and 10% w/w) to alter soil physicochemical properties and mitigate bioavailability of Cd, Pb and Zn spiked in treatments at different doses (in mg kg−1 ); 0 (not spiked), 1 (1 Cd, 70 Pb, 100 Zn) and 2 (3 Cd, 500 Pb, 700 Zn), and incubated for 9 weeks. At the end of the experiment, the EDTAextractable HM fractions, pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC) and specific surface area (SSA, to check trends) were determined in all treated soils. Results showed that FYM, BCW and BIO generally improved all soil properties (except reduced pH from BCW and apparent SSA reduction from FYM) and accounted for respective maximum abatements of Cd (50.2, 69.9 and 25.5%), Pb (34.2, 64.3 and 17.4%) and Zn (14.9, 17.7 and 11.8%) bioavailability in soil. FYM and BCW were more effective at 10% w/w especially in the low contaminated soil, whereas the highest efficacy for BIO was at 5% w/w and in the high contaminated soil. The efficacies of sorption by the organic sorbents varied for different HMs and were in the orders: BCW > FYM > BIO for Cd, FYM > BCW > BIO for Pb and BIO > BCW > FYM for Zn. Soil pH and CEC were strongly correlated with HM bioavailability in all treatments and implied that immobilisation of HMs occurred via complex formation, ion exchange and pH-dependent specific adsorption. All three sorbents were beneficial as soil amendments, and in terms of HM mitigation, BCW had the highest efficacy, followed by FYM and then BIO. Considering the documented high soil stability of BCW and BIO, these results are promising for further trialling at field scale.
  • Spatial evaluation and trade‐off analysis of soil functions through Bayesian networks

    Vrebos, Dirk; Jones, Arwyn; Lugato, Emanuele; O’Sullivan, Lillian; Schulte, Rogier; Staes, Jan; Meire, Patrick; European Union; 635201 (Wiley, 2020-08-23)
    There is increasing recognition that soils fulfil many functions for society. Each soil can deliver a range of functions, but some soils are more effective at some functions than others due to their intrinsic properties. In this study we mapped four different soil functions on agricultural lands across the European Union. For each soil function, indicators were developed to evaluate their performance. To calculate the indicators and assess the interdependencies between the soil functions, data from continental long‐term simulation with the DayCent model were used to build crop‐specific Bayesian networks. These Bayesian Networks were then used to calculate the soil functions' performance and trade‐offs between the soil functions under current conditions. For each soil function the maximum potential was estimated across the European Union and changes in trade‐offs were assessed. By deriving current and potential soil function delivery from Bayesian networks a better understanding is gained of how different soil functions and their interdependencies can differ depending on soil, climate and management. Highlights When increasing a soil function, how do trade‐offs affect the other functions under different conditions? Bayesian networks evaluate trade‐offs between soil functions and estimate their maximal delivery. Maximizing a soil function has varied effects on other functions depending on soil, climate and management. Differences in trade‐offs make some locations more suitable for increasing a soil function then others.
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem function: making sense of numerous species interactions in multi-species communities

    Brophy, Caroline; Dooley, Áine; Kirwan, Laura; Finn, John A.; McDonnell, Jack; Bell, Thomas; Cadotte, Marc W.; Connolly, John; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/RFP/EOB2546 (Wiley, 2017-06-30)
    Understanding the biodiversity and ecosystem function relationship can be challenging in species‐rich ecosystems. Traditionally, species richness has been relied on heavily to explain changes in ecosystem function across diversity gradients. Diversity–Interactions models can test how ecosystem function is affected by species identity, species interactions, and evenness, in addition to richness. However, in a species‐rich system, there may be too many species interactions to allow estimation of each coefficient, and if all interaction coefficients are estimable, they may be devoid of any sensible biological meaning. Parsimonious descriptions using constraints among interaction coefficients have been developed but important variability may still remain unexplained. Here, we extend Diversity–Interactions models to describe the effects of diversity on ecosystem function using a combination of fixed coefficients and random effects. Our approach provides improved standard errors for testing fixed coefficients and incorporates lack‐of‐fit tests for diversity effects. We illustrate our methods using data from a grassland and a microbial experiment. Our framework considerably reduces the complexities associated with understanding how species interactions contribute to ecosystem function in species‐rich ecosystems.
  • Comparative assessment of ecosystem C exchange in Miscanthusand reed canary grass during early establishment

    Ní Choncubhair, Órlaith; Osborne, Bruce; Finnan, John; Lanigan, Gary; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 07527 (Wiley, 2016-05-12)
    Land‐use change to bioenergy crop production can contribute towards addressing the dual challenges of greenhouse gas mitigation and energy security. Realisation of the mitigation potential of bioenergy crops is, however, dependent on suitable crop selection and full assessment of the carbon (C) emissions associated with land conversion. Using eddy covariance‐based estimates, ecosystem C exchange was studied during the early‐establishment phase of two perennial crops, C3 reed canary grass (RCG) and C4 Miscanthus, planted on former grassland in Ireland. Crop development was the main determinant of net carbon exchange in the Miscanthus crop, restricting significant net C uptake during the first 2 years of establishment. The Miscanthus ecosystem switched from being a net C source in the conversion year to a strong net C sink (−411 ± 63 g C m−2) in the third year, driven by significant above‐ground growth and leaf expansion. For RCG, early establishment and rapid canopy development facilitated a net C sink in the first 2 years of growth (−319 ± 57 (post‐planting) and −397 ± 114 g C m−2, respectively). Peak seasonal C uptake occurred three months earlier in RCG (May) than Miscanthus (August), however Miscanthus sustained net C uptake longer into the autumn and was close to C‐neutral in winter. Leaf longevity is therefore a key advantage of C4 Miscanthus in temperate climates. Further increases in productivity are projected as Miscanthus reaches maturity and are likely to further enhance the C sink potential of Miscanthus relative to RCG.
  • Exploring the sensitivity of visual soil evaluation to traffic-induced soil compaction

    Emmet-Booth, J.P.; Holden, N.M.; Fenton, Owen; Bondi, G.; Forristal, P.D.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13/S/468 (Elsevier BV, 2020-03)
    Visual Soil Evaluation (VSE) techniques are useful for assessing the impact of land management, particularly the identification and remediation of soil compaction. Despite an increasing body of VSE research, comparatively few studies have explored the sensitivity of VSE for capturing experimentally imposed compaction to estimate sensitivity and limit of detection. The aim of this research was to examine the ability of VSE techniques to indicate soil structure at different soil profile depths and to measure the associated soil productive function (yield) response to imposed compaction. A two-year experiment was conducted on sites with loam and sandy soils. Varying levels of wheeled traffic were imposed on plots in a randomised block design, prior to sowing winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Quantitative crop and soil measurements were taken throughout the season in conjunction with VSE techniques, which assessed to 25 cm (VESS), 40 cm (Double Spade) and 80 cm (SubVESS) depth. Graduated changes were observed by soil and some crop quantitative measurements as traffic treatment varied. VESS and Double Spade successfully identified a graduated treatment effect at all sites to 40 cm depth, although diagnosis translated into a yield response for the loam but not the sandy soil. Correlation between VESS Sq scores and crop yield were found. SubVESS gave mixed signals and indicated impacts lower in the profile in certain instances. These impacts were not captured by quantitative soil measurements. This work highlights the capacity for VSE techniques to indicate soil structural damage, which may cause a crop yield response, therefore allowing appropriate soil management strategies to be deployed before yield penalties occur.
  • The arrival of a red invasive seaweed to a nutrient over-enriched estuary increases the spatial extent of macroalgal blooms

    Bermejo, Ricardo; MacMonagail, Michéal; Heesch, Svenja; Mendes, Ana; Edwards, Maeve; Fenton, Owen; Knöller, Kay; Daly, Eve; Morrison, Liam; Environmental Protection Agency; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-06)
    The red seaweed Agarophyton vermiculophyllum is an invasive species native to the north-west Pacific, which has proliferated in temperate estuaries of Europe, North America and Africa. Combining molecular identification tools, historical satellite imagery and one-year seasonal monitoring of biomass and environmental conditions, the presence of A. vermiculophyllum was confirmed, and the invasion was assessed and reconstructed. The analysis of satellite imagery identified the first bloom in 2014 and revealed that A. vermiculophyllum is capable of thriving in areas, where native bloom-forming species cannot, increasing the size of blooms (ca. 10%). The high biomass found during the peak bloom (>2 kg m−2) and the observation of anoxic events indicated deleterious effects. The monitoring of environmental conditions and biomass variability suggests an essential role of light, temperature and phosphorous in bloom development. The introduction of this species could be considered a threat for local biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in a global change context.
  • Sward composition and soil moisture conditions affect nitrous oxide emissions and soil nitrogen dynamics following urea-nitrogen application

    Bracken, Conor J.; Lanigan, Gary J.; Richards, Karl G.; Müller, Christoph; Tracy, Saoirse R.; Grant, James; Krol, Dominika; Sheridan, Helen; Lynch, Mary Bridget; Grace, Cornelia; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-06)
    Increased emissions of N2O, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), from agricultural soils is a major concern for the sustainability of grassland agriculture. Emissions of N2O are closely associated with the rates and forms of N fertilisers applied as well as prevailing weather and soil conditions. Evidence suggests that multispecies swards require less fertiliser N input, and may cycle N differently, thus reducing N loss to the environment. This study used a restricted simplex-centroid experimental design to investigate N2O emissions and soil N cycling following application of urea-N (40 kg N ha−1) to eight experimental swards (7.8 m2) with differing proportions of three plant functional groups (grass, legume, herb) represented by perennial ryegrass (PRG, Lolium perenne), white clover (WC, Trifolium repens) and ribwort plantain (PLAN, Plantago lanceolata), respectively. Swards were maintained under two contrasting soil moisture conditions to examine the balance between nitrification and denitrification. Two N2O peaks coincided with fertiliser application and heavy rainfall events; 13.4 and 17.7 g N2O-N ha−1 day−1 (ambient soil moisture) and 39.8 and 86.9 g N2O-N ha−1 day−1 (wet soil moisture). Overall, cumulative N2O emissions post-fertiliser application were higher under wet soil conditions. Increasing legume (WC) proportions from 0% to 60% in multispecies swards resulted in model predicted N2O emissions increasing from 22.3 to 96.2 g N2O-N ha−1 (ambient soil conditions) and from 59.0 to 219.3 g N2O-N ha−1 (wet soil conditions), after a uniform N application rate. Soil N dynamics support denitrification as the dominant source of N2O especially under wet soil conditions. Significant interactions of PRG or WC with PLAN on soil mineral N concentrations indicated that multispecies swards containing PLAN potentially inhibit nitrification and could be a useful mitigation strategy for N loss to the environment from grassland agriculture.
  • Nitrogen fertilisers with urease inhibitors reduce nitrous oxide and ammonia losses, while retaining yield in temperate grassland

    Krol, Dominika; Forrestal, P. J.; Wall, David P.; Lanigan, G. J.; Sanz-Gomez, J.; Richards, K. G.; Irish Research Council; EPSPD/2016/54 (Elsevier, 2020-04-02)
    Nitrogen fertilisation, although a cornerstone of modern agricultural production, negatively impacts the environment through gaseous losses of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), and ammonia (NH3), a known air pollutant. The aim of this work was to assess the feasibility of urea treated with urease inhibitors to reduce gaseous N losses in temperate grassland, while maintaining or improving productivity compared to conventional fertiliser formulations. Urease inhibitors were N-(n-butyl)-thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) (urea + NBPT) and N-(n-propyl)-thiophosphoric triamide (NPPT) (urea+ NBPT + NPPT), while conventional fertilisers were urea and calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN). N2O emission factors were 0.06%, 0.07%, 0.09% and 0.58% from urea + NBPT, urea, urea + NBPT + NPPT and CAN, respectively, with CAN significantly higher than all the urea formulations, which were not significantly different from each other. Ammonia loss measured over one fertiliser application was significantly larger from urea, at 43%, compared with other formulations at 13.9%, 13.8% and 5.2% from urea + NBPT, urea + NBPT + NPPT and CAN, respectively. Changing fertiliser formulation had no significant impact on grass yield or N uptake in four out of five harvests. In the last harvest urea + NBPT significantly out-yielded urea, but not CAN or urea + NBPT + NPPT. Overall, urea treated with either one or both urease inhibitors significantly reduced emissions of N2O and NH3, while preserving yield quantity and quality. Therefore, changing fertiliser formulation to these products should be encouraged as a strategy to reduce GHG and air pollution from agricultural practices in temperate climate.
  • Exploring Climate‐Smart Land Management for Atlantic Europe

    Schulte, Rogier P. O.; O'Sullivan, Lilian; Coyle, Cait; Farrelly, Niall; Gutzler, Carsten; Lanigan, Gary; Torres‐Sallan, Gemma; Creamer, Rachel E.; Dairy Research Trust; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Wiley, 2016-09)
    Core Ideas Managing soil organic carbon is an essential aspect of climate‐smart agriculture. Combining component research, we derive a soil carbon management concept for Ireland. Optimized soil carbon management is differentiated in accordance with soil type. Existing policy tools can be tailored to incentivize climate‐smart land management. Soils can be a sink or source of carbon, and managing soil carbon has significant potential to partially offset agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. While European Union (EU) member states have not been permitted to account for this offsetting potential in their efforts to meet the EU 2020 reduction targets, this policy is now changing for the period 2020 to 2030, creating a demand for land management plans aimed at maximizing the offsetting potential of land. In this letter, we derive a framework for climate‐smart land management in the Atlantic climate zone of the EU by combining the results from five component research studies on various aspects of the carbon cycle. We show that the options for proactive management of soil organic carbon differ according to soil type and that a spatially tailored approach to land management will be more effective than blanket policies.
  • The elusive role of soil quality in nutrient cycling: a review

    Schröder, J. J.; Schulte, R. P. O.; Creamer, R. E.; Delgado, A.; Leeuwen, J.; Lehtinen, T.; Rutgers, M.; Spiegel, H.; Staes, J.; Tóth, G.; et al. (Wiley, 2016-09-16)
    Cycling of nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, is one of the ecosystem services we expect agricultural soils to deliver. Nutrient cycling incorporates the reuse of agricultural, industrial and municipal organic residues that, misleadingly, are often referred to as ‘wastes’. The present review disentangles the processes underlying the cycling of nutrients to better understand which soil properties determine the performance of that function. Four processes are identified (i) the capacity to receive nutrients, (ii) the capacity to make and keep nutrients available to crops, (iii) the capacity to support the uptake of nutrients by crops and (iv) the capacity to support their successful removal in harvested crop. Soil properties matter but it is imperative that, as constituents of ‘soil quality’, they should be evaluated in the context of management options and climate and not as ends in their own right. The effect of a soil property may vary depending on the prevailing climatic and hydrologic conditions and on other soil properties. We recognize that individual soil properties may be enhancing one of the processes underlying the cycling of nutrients but simultaneously weakening others. Competing demands on soil properties are even more obvious when considering other soil functions such as primary production, purification and flow regulation of water, climate modification and habitat provision, as shown by examples. Consequently, evaluations of soil properties and management actions need to be site-specific, taking account of local aspects of their suitability and potential challenges.
  • Data and code: Beneficial effects of multi-species mixtures on N2O emissions from intensively managed grassland swards

    Cummins, Saoirse; Finn, John; Richards, Karl; Lanigan, Gary; Grange, Guylain; Brophy, Caroline; Cardenas, Laura M.; Misselbrook, Tom H.; Reynolds, Chris K.; Krol, Dominika; et al. (2021)
    We provide the data and statistical code that produced the results presented in Cummins et al. (2021). Three files are available to download: - The data file ‘Cummins_etal_2021_N2O.csv’: contains the annual N2O emissions and N2O emissions intensities (see Readme file for details) measured from sown grassland comprising one to six species within one to three functional groups (grass, legume and herb). - An accompanying readme file ‘Readme_Cummins_etal_2021_N2O.txt’: this contains the metadata for the data in ‘Cummins_etal_2021_N2O.csv’. - Statistical code (SAS software) ‘SAScode_for_Cummins_et_al_2021.sas’: SAS code to repeat the analyses as in the final models of the published paper.
  • Easy phylotyping of Escherichia coli via the EzClermont web app and command-line tool

    Waters, Nicholas R.; Abram, Florence; Brennan, Fiona; Holmes, Ashleigh; Pritchard, Leighton; The James Hutton Institute; National University of Ireland, Galway (Microbiology Society, 2020-09-01)
    The Clermont PCR method for phylotyping Escherichia coli remains a useful classification scheme even though genome sequencing is now routine, and higher-resolution sequence typing schemes are now available. Relating present-day whole-genome E. coli classifications to legacy phylotyping is essential for harmonizing the historical literature and understanding of this important organism. Therefore, we present EzClermont – a novel in silico Clermont PCR phylotyping tool to enable ready application of this phylotyping scheme to whole-genome assemblies. We evaluate this tool against phylogenomic classifications, and an alternative software implementation of Clermont typing. EzClermont is available as a web app at www.ezclermont.org, and as a command-line tool at https://nickp60.github.io/EzClermont/.

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