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

  • Datafile: Grassland legacy effects on yield of a follow-on crop in rotation strongly influenced by legume proportion and moderately by drought

    Grange, Guylain; Brophy, Caroline; Finn, John (2022)
    Dataset contains the dry matter and nitrogen yield responses of a Lolium multiflorum crop (summed across harvests). The L. multiflorum crop was sown on plots comprising grassland communities of one to six species (and one to three functional groups) that were growing for the previous two years. An experimental summer drought was implemented on half of each plot during the grassland phase but not the crop phase. Data were collected in Wexford, Republic of Ireland (52.299584, -6.506458) in 2020.
  • Data file: A landscape classification map of Ireland and its potential use in national land use monitoring.

    Carlier, J.; Doyle, M.; Finn, John; Ó hUallacháin, D.; Moran, J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 2019R425 (Elsevier, 2021)
    This data file provides the map (png file) and GIS data associated with a publication in the Journal of Environmental Management titled 'A landscape classification map of Ireland and its potential use in national land use monitoring.'
  • A landscape classification map of Ireland and its potential use in national land use monitoring

    Carlier, J.; Doyle, M.; Finn, John; O hUallachain, Daire; Moran, J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 2019R425 (Elsevier BV, 2021-07)
    This study presents a novel landscape classification map of the Republic of Ireland and is the first to identify broad landscape classes by incorporating physiographic and land cover data. The landscape classification responds to commitments to identify and classify the Irish landscape as a signatory to the European Landscape Convention. The methodology applied a series of clustering iterations to determine an objective multivariate classification of physiographic landscape units and land cover datasets. The classification results determined nine statistically significant landscape classes and the development of a landscape classification map at a national scale. A statistical breakdown of land cover area and diversity of each class was interpreted, and a comparison was extended using independent descriptive variables including farmland use intensity, elevation, and dominant soil type. Each class depicts unique spatial and composition characteristics, from coastal, lowland and elevated, to distinct and dominating land cover types, further explained by the descriptive variables. The significance of individual classes and success of the classification is discussed with particular reference to the wider applicability of the map. The transferability of the methodology to other existing physiographic maps and environmental datasets to generate new landscape classifications is also considered. This novel work facilitates the development of a strategic framework to efficiently monitor, compare and analyse ecological and other land use data that is spatially representative of the distribution and extent of land cover in the Irish countryside.
  • Benchmarking a decade of holistic agro-environmental studies within the Agricultural Catchments Programme

    Mellander, Per-Erik; Lynch, M.B.; Galloway, J.; Žurovec, O.; McCormack, Michele; O’Neill, M.; Hawtree, D.; Burgess, E.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Teagasc, 2022-02-26)
    Meeting sustainable food production challenges requires efficient ways to manage nutrients and mitigate the losses of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to water. Future nutrient management therefore requires a clearer understanding of the relative influence of soils, geology, farm practice, landscape and weather on the propensity for nutrients to be lost to water. Within the Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP), environmental, agronomic and socioeconomic data have been gathered since 2009, using the same experimental methodology in five meso-scale river catchments, and one karst spring zone, covering a range of soils, landscapes and farming systems. The ACP has contributed to a better understanding of nutrient mobilisation and transfer pathways and highlighted the influence of the physical and chemical environment as well as agricultural and meteorological drivers on diffuse nutrient loss to ground and surface waters. The environmental quality standards were breached for N and/or P in some of the catchments, but for different reasons and not always clearly linked to the source pressures within the catchment. There are clearly no one-size-fits-all solutions for mitigation of nutrient losses to water. A better understanding of the underlying processes is required to identify critical source areas, to select mitigation strategies, when to implement them and to build realistic expectations of their impact. Sustainability in an agricultural setting is not confined to environmental issues, but also includes social, economic and innovative aspects. To maximise farmers’ uptake of environmental measures, the actions should encompass all these aspects of sustainability. Integrated knowledge transfer is key.
  • Development of a defined compost system for the study of plant-microbe interactions

    Masters-Clark, E.; Shone, E.; Paradelo, M.; Hirsch, P. R.; Clark, I. M.; Otten, W.; Brennan, Fiona; Mauchline, T. H.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Natural Environment Research Council; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-05-05)
    Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria can improve plant health by providing enhanced nutrition, disease suppression and abiotic stress resistance, and have potential to contribute to sustainable agriculture. We have developed a sphagnum peat-based compost platform for investigating plantmicrobe interactions. The chemical, physical and biological status of the system can be manipulated to understand the relative importance of these factors for plant health, demonstrated using three case studies: 1. Nutrient depleted compost retained its structure, but plants grown in this medium were severely stunted in growth due to removal of essential soluble nutrients - particularly, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Compost nutrient status was replenished with the addition of selected soluble nutrients, validated by plant biomass; 2. When comparing milled and unmilled compost, we found nutrient status to be more important than matrix structure for plant growth; 3. In compost defcient in soluble P, supplemented with an insoluble inorganic form of P (Ca3(PO4)2), application of a phosphate solubilising Pseudomonas strain to plant roots provides a signifcant growth boost when compared with a Pseudomonas strain incapable of solubilising Ca3(PO4)2. Our fndings show that the compost system can be manipulated to impose biotic and abiotic stresses for testing how microbial inoculants infuence plant growth.
  • Tropical forest soil carbon stocks do not increase despite 15 years of doubled litter inputs

    Sayer, Emma J.; Lopez-Sangil, Luis; Crawford, John A.; Bréchet, Laëtitia M.; Birkett, Ali J.; Baxendale, Catherine; Castro, Biancolini; Rodtassana, Chadtip; Garnett, Mark H.; Weiss, Lena; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-07-23)
    Soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics represent a persisting uncertainty in our understanding of the global carbon cycle. SOC storage is strongly linked to plant inputs via the formation of soil organic matter, but soil geochemistry also plays a critical role. In tropical soils with rapid SOC turnover, the association of organic matter with soil minerals is particularly important for stabilising SOC but projected increases in tropical forest productivity could trigger feedbacks that stimulate the release of stored SOC. Here, we demonstrate limited additional SOC storage after 13–15 years of experimentally doubled aboveground litter inputs in a lowland tropical forest. We combined biological, physical, and chemical methods to characterise SOC along a gradient of bioavailability. After 13 years of monthly litter addition treatments, most of the additional SOC was readily bioavailable and we observed no increase in mineral-associated SOC. Importantly, SOC with weak association to soil minerals declined in response to long-term litter addition, suggesting that increased plant inputs could modify the formation of organo-mineral complexes in tropical soils. Hence, we demonstrate the limited capacity of tropical soils to sequester additional C inputs and provide insights into potential underlying mechanisms.
  • Impact of nitrogen compounds on fungal and bacterial contributions to codenitrification in a pasture soil

    Rex, David; Clough, Timothy J.; Richards, Karl G.; Condron, Leo M.; de Klein, Cecile A. M.; Morales, Sergio E.; Lanigan, Gary J.; New Zealand Government; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 16084 (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-09-16)
    Ruminant urine patches on grazed grassland are a signifcant source of agricultural nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Of the many biotic and abiotic N2O production mechanisms initiated following urine-urea deposition, codenitrifcation resulting in the formation of hybrid N2O, is one of the least understood. Codenitrifcation forms hybrid N2O via biotic N-nitrosation, co-metabolising organic and inorganic N compounds (N substrates) to produce N2O. The objective of this study was to assess the relative signifcance of diferent N substrates on codenitrifcation and to determine the contributions of fungi and bacteria to codenitrifcation. 15N-labelled ammonium, hydroxylamine (NH2OH) and two amino acids (phenylalanine or glycine) were applied, separately, to sieved soil mesocosms eight days after a simulated urine event, in the absence or presence of bacterial and fungal inhibitors. Soil chemical variables and N2O fuxes were monitored and the codenitrifed N2O fuxes determined. Fungal inhibition decreased N2O fuxes by ca. 40% for both amino acid treatments, while bacterial inhibition only decreased the N2O fux of the glycine treatment, by 14%. Hydroxylamine (NH2OH) generated the highest N2O fuxes which declined with either fungal or bacterial inhibition alone, while combined inhibition resulted in a 60% decrease in the N2O fux. All the N substrates examined participated to some extent in codenitrifcation. Trends for codenitrifcation under the NH2OH substrate treatment followed those of total N2O fuxes (85.7% of total N2O fux). Codenitrifcation fuxes under non-NH2OH substrate treatments (0.7–1.2% of total N2O fux) were two orders of magnitude lower, and signifcant decreases in these treatments only occurred with fungal inhibition in the amino acid substrate treatments. These results demonstrate that in situ studies are required to better understand the dynamics of codenitrifcation substrates in grazed pasture soils and the associated role that fungi have with respect to codenitrifcation.
  • Roadmap for the European Joint Program SOIL: Towards Climate-Smart Sustainable Management of Agricultural Soils

    Saskia, Visser; Saskia, Keesstra; Órlaith, Ní Choncubhair; Titia, Mulder; Edoardo, Costantini; Francois, Sousanna Jean; Claire, Chenu; Peter, Kuikman; Jennie, Barron; Niels, Halberg; et al. (MDPI AG, 2020-06-23)
    Our planet suffers from humankind’s impact on natural resources, biogeochemical cycles and ecosystems. Intensive modern agriculture with inappropriate inputs of fertilisers, pesticides and fossil fuel –based energy has increasingly added to human pressure on the environment. As a key element of our natural capital, soils are also under threat, despite being essential to provide food, feed, fibre and fuel for an increasing global population. Moreover, soils play a key role in carbon, water and energy cycles, highlighting their importance for biomass provision and the circular bioeconomy. Evidently, these new and complex challenges cannot be resolved effectively with existing knowledge and experience alone. These challenges require scientific research, interdisciplinary collaboration and networking to find context-specific and tailored solutions addressing societal issues of our time and facilitating the adoption of these solutions. The most effective approaches are based on the involvement of multiple actors from science, policy, economy, civil society and farming that have the same goal, work on the same societal issue, but have complementing backgrounds, expertise and perceptions. The European Joint Programme (EJP) SOIL is a European network of research institutes in the field of soil science and agricultural soil management that will provide science-based advice to practitioners and policymakers, at local, national and European level. The EJP SOIL aims to align and boost research, training and capacity building through joint programming activities co-funded by the European Commission and national research programs. This will reduce current fragmentation and help to find synergies in order to make a leapfrog in research on good agricultural soil management in three main areas: climate change mitigation and adaptation, production capacity in healthy food systems, and environmental sustainability. By joint programming, training and capacity building, EJP SOIL will also take into account the need for effective policy solutions, as well as the socio-economic conditions of all stakeholders in the agricultural value chain. Thus, a key focus of the EJP SOIL is to build and strengthen a framework for an integrated community of research groups working on related aspects of agricultural soil management. As part of this effort, EJP SOIL will co-construct with stakeholders a roadmap for agricultural soil research. To develop a structured roadmap, EJP SOIL works with a version of the knowledge management framework of Dalkir (2005). The EJP version uses four compartments: (i) Knowledge development, (ii) knowledge harmonisation, organisation and storage (iii) knowledge sharing and transfer, and (iv) knowledge application. The four segments are part of a cyclic process to enhance the development and use of knowledge on agricultural soils. Knowledge development comprises assessing new knowledge needs to achieve the expected impacts of EJP SOIL. Therefore, by involving multiple stakeholders, knowledge gaps across Europe will be identified to work towards the adoption of Climate-Smart Sustainable Agricultural Soil Management (CSSASM). Within the knowledge sharing and transfer compartment, the capacity of scientists, advisors, policy makers, farmers and other stakeholders will be strengthened. EJP SOIL will work to support networks and co-creation of new knowledge with stakeholder groups, stimulating innovation in CSSASM. The knowledge harmonization, organization and storage compartment of the knowledge framework ensures linkages with all stakeholders to guarantee data harmonization and standardization. The last compartment, application of knowledge, will be facilitated by creating better guidelines, awareness and capacity for Climate-Smart Sustainable Agricultural Soil Management adoption and by strengthening science-to-policy processes at EU and Member State level.
  • An Analysis of the Cost of the Abatement of Ammonia Emissions in Irish Agriculture to 2030

    Buckley, Cathal; Krol, Dominika; Lanigan, Gary J.; Donnellan, Trevor; Spink, John; Hanrahan, Kevin; Boland, Andy; Forrestal, Patrick; Humphreys, James; Murphy, Pat; et al. (Teagasc, 2020-09)
    This analysis quantifies the potential to abate national ammonia (NH3) emissions up to 2030. This report is an updated marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) analysis where Teagasc has quantified the abatement potential of a range of ammonia mitigation measures, as well as their associated costs/benefits (see Lanigan et al. 2015 for previous analysis). The objective of this analysis is to quantify the extent and costs associated with meeting future ammonia emission targets that were negotiated as part of the amended Clean Air Policy Package. The requirement to reduce ammonia emissions is urgent, both in terms of compliance with the National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD), and as a principal loss pathway for agricultural nitrogen (N). Improvement of N efficiency is a key focus for improving farm efficiency and sustainability as well as reducing the ammonia, nitrate and greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of agriculture. This is particularly relevant in the context of the national strategies on the development of the agri-food sector: Food Wise 2025, Ag-food strategy 2030 and Ag-Climatise (currently under development) and the newly unveiled EU Farm to Fork Strategy, which is a part of the European Green Deal. Under the baseline scenario (S1), agricultural ammonia emissions are projected to increase by 9% (without any mitigation) by 2030 relative to 2005 levels. While these increases are small in comparison to the targeted increase in agricultural output, they will provide a major challenge to meeting emissions targets, particularly as agriculture comprises over 99% of national emissions. The analysis presented in this report seeks to quantify the ammonia mitigation potential under likely uptake pathways. This is not an exhaustive analysis of all mitigation measures, but represents an assessment of best available techniques, based on scientific, peer-reviewed research carried out by Teagasc and associated national and international research partners. Indeed, any future changes in the sector or in the national emission inventory calculations will require further analysis of the applicability of ammonia mitigation techniques, particularly in terms of housing and storage but also in the context of other reactive N1 emissions. It should also be noted that some mitigation measures, particularly those related to nitrogen application to soils, could result in either higher greenhouse gas emissions or higher nitrate leaching. Compared to a future where no mitigation measures are deployed to address emissions, by 2030 the average technical abatement2 potential was estimated to be approximately 15.26 kt NH3 at a net cost of €10.86 million per annum. However, it should be noted that the net cost (€10.86 million) is comprised of 6 measures that are cost negative (-€22.21 million) and 7 measures that are cost positive (€33.07) and that some of the cost negative measures are predicated on efficiency gains driven by best management practice adoption (e.g. liming and clover measures with associate chemical N reductions). Amongst the thirteen mitigation measures selected for this analysis, 80% of the mitigation potential can be achieved by the full implementation of the mitigation pathways for protected urea and low emission slurry spreading (LESS) techniques for bovines. It should be stressed that this is an assessment of the maximum abatement potential and realising this level of abatement in practice will be extremely challenging. Any increase in agricultural activity beyond the baseline scenario will increase absolute emissions. The level of mitigation achievable is based on the draft AgClimatise measures any delay or reduction in the uptake of these measures will reduce the mitigation achieved. It must also be ensured that all mitigation measures should, where possible, be synergistic with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and N loss to water.
  • Ranking hazards pertaining to human health concerns from land application of anaerobic digestate

    Nag, Rajat; Whyte, Paul; Markey, Bryan K.; O'Flaherty, Vincent; Bolton, Declan; Fenton, Owen; Richards, Karl G.; Cummins, Enda; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/SF/847 (Elsevier BV, 2020-03)
    Anaerobic digestion (AD) has been identified as one of the cleanest producers of green energy. AD typically uses organic materials as feedstock and, through a series of biological processes, produces methane. Farmyard manure and slurry (FYM&S) are important AD feedstock and are typically mixed with agricultural waste, grass and/or food wastes. The feedstock may contain many different pathogens which can survive the AD process and hence also possibly be present in the final digestate. In this study, a semi-quantitative screening tool was developed to rank pathogens of potential health concern emerging from AD digestate. A scoring system was used to categorise likely inactivation during AD, hazard pathways and finally, severity as determined from reported human mortality rates, number of global human-deaths and infections per 100,000 populations. Five different conditions including mesophilic and thermophilic AD and three different pasteurisation conditions were assessed in terms of specific pathogen inactivation. In addition, a number of scenarios were assessed to consider foodborne incidence data from Ireland and Europe and to investigate the impact of raw FYM&S application (without AD and pasteurisation). A sensitivity analysis revealed that the score for the mortality rate (S3) was the most sensitive parameter (rank coefficient 0.49) to influence the final score S; followed by thermal inactivation score (S1, 0.25) and potential contamination pathways (S2, 0.16). Across all the scenarios considered, the screening tool prioritised Cryptosporidium parvum, Salmonella spp., norovirus, Streptococcus pyogenes, enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), Mycobacterium spp., Salmonella typhi (followed by S. paratyphi), Clostridium spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter coli as the highest-ranking pathogens of human health concern resulting from AD digestate in Ireland. This tool prioritises potentially harmful pathogens which can emerge from AD digestate and highlights where regulation and intervention may be required.
  • A Response to the Draft Climate Change Adaptation Sectoral Plan for Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Sector

    Farrelly, Niall; Lanigan, Gary; Donnellan, Trevor; Richards, Karl; Fealy, Reamonn; O’Donovan, Michael; Mellander, Per-Erik; Mullins, Ewen; Houlihan, Tom; Ní Fhlatharta, Nuala; et al. (2019-08-30)
    Teagasc is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this Draft Climate Change Adaptation Sectoral Plan for Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Sectors, although our contribution will largely be limited to the agriculture and forestry sectors. We have also taken the liberty to contribute in the form of ‘submissions, observations and comments’ as indicated in the call for contributions rather than in the formal questionnaire which appears to be more appropriate for an individual submission rather than an organisational contribution.
  • Editorial: RAMIRAN 2017: Sustainable Utilisation of Manures and Residue Resources in Agriculture

    Misselbrook, Tom; Wagner-Riddle, Claudia; Richards, Karl; Lanigan, Gary; Burchill, William; Salazar, Francisco; RAMIRAN 2017 (Frontiers, 2019-09-24)
    The recycling of organic residues deriving from on-farm (e.g., livestock manure) or off-farm (e.g., sewage sludge, industrial by-products) is a central part of the circular economy toward developing more sustainable food production systems (e.g., EC, 2014). However, the safe, effective, and efficient use of organic “waste” streams as resources for nutrient provision and soil improvement in agricultural systems require several challenges to be addressed, summarized by Bernal (2017) as (i) to improve nutrient availability and soil cycling; (ii) to develop technologies for nutrient re-use; (iii) to reduce contaminants and improve food safety; (iv) to mitigate environmental emissions; and (v) to enhance soil health and function. Addressing these challenges needs multidisciplinary research within a whole systems context.
  • LIFE BEEF CARBON: a common framework for quantifying grass and corn based beef farms’ carbon footprints

    O’Brien, D.; Herron, J.; Andurand, J.; Caré, S.; Martinez, P.; Migliorati, L.; Moro, M.; Pirlo, G.; Dollé, J-B; European Union; et al. (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2019-10-31)
    Europe’s roadmap to a low-carbon economy aims to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Beef production is an important source of GHG emissions and is expected to increase as the world population grows. LIFE BEEF CARBON is a voluntary European initiative that aims to reduce GHG emissions per unit of beef (carbon footprint) by 15% over a 10-year period on 2172 farms in four large beef-producing countries. Changes in farms beef carbon footprint are normally estimated via simulation modelling, but the methods current models apply differ. Thus, our initial goal was to develop a common modelling framework to estimate beef farms carbon footprint. The framework was developed for a diverse set of Western Europe farms located in Ireland, Spain, Italy and France. Whole farm and life cycle assessment (LCA) models were selected to quantify emissions for the different production contexts and harmonized. Carbon Audit was chosen for Ireland, Bovid-CO2 for Spain and CAP’2ER for France and Italy. All models were tested using 20 case study farms, that is, 5 per country and quantified GHG emissions associated with on-farm live weight gain. The comparison showed the ranking of beef systems gross carbon footprint was consistent across the three models. Suckler to weaning or store systems generally had the highest carbon footprint followed by suckler to beef systems and fattening beef systems. When applied to the same farm, Carbon Audit’s footprint estimates were slightly lower than CAP’2ER, but marginally higher than Bovid-CO2. These differences occurred because the models were adapted to a specific region’s production circumstances, which meant their emission factors for key sources; that is, methane from enteric fermentation and GHG emissions from concentrates were less accurate when used outside their target region. Thus, for the common modelling framework, regionspecific LCA models were chosen to estimate beef carbon footprints instead of a single generic model. Additionally, the Carbon Audit and Bovid-CO2 models were updated to include carbon removal by soil and other environmental metrics included in CAP’2ER, for example, acidification. This allows all models to assess the effect carbon mitigation strategies have on other potential pollutants. Several options were identified to reduce beef farms carbon footprint, for example, improving genetic merit. These options were assessed for beef systems, and a mitigation plan was created by each nation. The cumulative mitigation effect of the LIFE BEEF CARBON plan was estimated to exceed the projects reduction target (−15%).
  • 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; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 727450; 727450 (Elsevier, 2020-07-25)
    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.
  • Plant traits of grass and legume species for flood resilience and N 2 O mitigation

    Oram, Natalie J.; Sun, Yan; Abalos, Diego; Groenigen, Jan Willem; Hartley, Sue; De Deyn, Gerlinde B.; Teagasc; European Union; Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek; 754380; et al. (Wiley, 2021-07-11)
    1. Flooding threatens the functioning of managed grasslands by decreasing primary productivity and increasing nitrogen losses, notably as the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Sowing species with traits that promote flood resilience and mitigate flood-induced N2O emissions within these grasslands could safeguard their productivity while mitigating nitrogen losses. 2. We tested how plant traits and resource acquisition strategies could predict flood resilience and N2O emissions of 12 common grassland species (eight grasses and four legumes) grown in field soil in monocultures in a 14-week greenhouse experiment. 3. We found that grasses were more resistant to flooding while legumes recovered better. Resource-conservative grass species had higher resistance while resource-acquisitive grasses species recovered better. Resilient grass and legume species lowered cumulative N2O emissions. Grasses with lower inherent leaf and root δ13C (and legumes with lower root δ13C) lowered cumulative N2O emissions during and after the flood. 4. Our results highlight the differing responses of grasses with contrasting resource acquisition strategies, and of legumes to flooding. Combining grasses and legumes based on their traits and resource acquisition strategies could increase the flood resilience of managed grasslands, and their capability to mitigate flood-induced N2O emissions.
  • Preparation and Antimicrobial Properties of Alginate and Serum Albumin/Glutaraldehyde Hydrogels Impregnated with Silver(I) Ions

    Gallagher, Louise; Smith, Alanna; Kavanagh, Kevin; Devereux, Michael; Colleran, John; Breslin, Carmel; Richards, Karl G.; McCann, Malachy; Rooney, A. Denise; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (MDPI AG, 2021-06-14)
    Calcium alginate (CaALG) hydrogel beads and two sets of composite beads, formed from a combination of calcium alginate/propylene glycol alginate/human serum albumin (CaALG/PGA/ HSA) and from calcium alginate with the quaternary ammonium salt, (3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl)- octadecyldimethylammonium chloride (QA), (CaALG/QA), were prepared. Bovine serum albumin (BSA) was condensed with glutaraldehyde (GLA) to form a BSA/GLA hydrogel. The corresponding Ag+-containing gels of all of the above hydrogels were also formed, and slow leaching of the biocidal transition metal ion from the gels bestowed broad spectrum antimicrobial activity. In the absence of added Ag+, CaALG/QA was the only material to deliver marginal to moderate antibacterial and antifungal effects. The Ag+ impregnated hydrogel systems have the potential to maintain the antimicrobial properties of silver, minimising the risk of toxicity, and act as reservoirs to afford ongoing sterility.
  • Hobson’s Choice: Finding the right mix of agricultural and environmental policy for Irish agriculture

    Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Lanigan, Gary J. (2021-11-16)
    Abstract As part of its international obligations, Ireland faces emission reduction targets with respect to greenhouse gases (GHG). These reduction targets are to be achieved both in the short term and over the coming decades. Agriculture is a substantial source (33%) of Ireland’s GHG emissions. Whereas the economic welfare of farmers has been the dominant force in shaping agriculture policy for several decades, there has been a notable increase in environmental concerns and a gradual emergence of environmental policies which are relevant to agriculture, particularly in the last 10 years. The future evolution of the agri-food sector in Ireland must therefore be seen in the context of both the economic growth objectives of national agricultural policy, as well as national environmental policy objectives arising from international obligations. In light of the recent proposals with respect to the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 (EC, 2018), environmental objectives will become an increasingly important subset of the CAP objectives and the implementation of the CAP in Ireland. The EU Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) requires that Ireland reduce its non-ETS GHG emission by 20% by 2020 relative to the 2005 level. The reduction target for the non-ETS sector for 2030 is 30%, but incorporates so called flexibility mechanisms designed to make the achievement of this target less onerous. A partial equilibrium model of Irish agriculture is used to explore differing future outcomes in terms of the sector’s size and associated GHG emissions to 2030. The scenario analysis employed demonstrates the implications of different future pathways for bovine (dairy and beef) agriculture, the dominant sector in Irish agriculture and the principal source of its GHG emissions. Mitigation actions are then factored in to provide measures of future levels of emissions inclusive of this mitigation capacity. While technical mitigation actions are largely grounded in interventions that are based on science, the scenario analysis makes clear that the scale of the ultimate challenge in mitigating agricultural GHG emissions will be determined by the overall size of the agriculture sector and the intensity of production per hectare. The dairy and beef sectors in Ireland are noteworthy for their contrasting levels of profitability; dependence on support payments; and farm income. Now that the EU milk quota has been eliminated, from the perspective of economic development, an increase in the size of the dairy sector and entry into the dairy sector are desirable economic policy objectives. However, the paper demonstrates the strong contrast between dairy and beef farms, not just in terms of income but also in terms of intensity of production per hectare and the associated level of emissions produced. It follows that a transition from beef production to dairy production, while desirable from the point of view of farm income, could have adverse consequences for emissions.
  • Mitigation of phosphorus, sediment and Escherichia coli losses in runoff from a dairy farm roadway

    McDowell, R.W.; Daly, Karen M.; Fenton, Owen; Environment Bay of Plenty; Our Land and Water National Science Challenge; Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; C10X1507; 2018-W-MS-38 (Compuscript Ltd.Teagasc, 2020-11-30)
    Dairy cow deposits on farm roadways are a potential source of contaminants entering streams. Phosphorus (P), suspended sediment (SS) and Escherichia coli (E. coli) loads in 18 runoff events over 12 mo from two-halves of a section of dairy farm roadway that spilt into an adjacent P-impacted stream were measured. The runoff from one half was untreated while the other half was directed through a filter of steel melter slag [termed aluminium chlorohydrate (ACH)-altered slag] sprayed with 1% ACH solution to improve P sorption capacity. An uncertainty analysis was conducted to ascertain potential loads of P lost from roadways considering variation in deposit weight, number and P content. Over the monitoring period, the total load decreased P (92%), SS (98%) and E. coli (76%) from the ACHaltered slag roadway compared to the control. However, uncertainty analysis showed that the amount of dung-P deposited on the roadway could be 10-fold greater.
  • A pilot study of methodology for the development of farmland habitat reports for sustainability assessments

    Finn, John; Moran, P.; Bord Bia (TeagascCompuscript Ltd, 2020-11-21)
    The inclusion of farm maps of habitat features is becoming an urgent requirement for assessments of farm-scale sustainability and for compliance or benchmarking with national and international sustainability certification and accreditation schemes. Traditional methods of habitat assessment rely strongly on field-based surveys, which are logistically demanding and relatively costly. We describe and investigate a process that relies on information technology to develop a scalable method that can be applied across multiple farms to reduce the significant logistical challenges and financial costs of traditional habitat surveys. A key impediment to the routine development of farm habitat maps is the lack of information on the type of habitats that occur on a land parcel. Within a pilot project comprising 187 farms, we developed and implemented a process for creating farm habitat reports and investigate the accuracy of visual interpretation of satellite imagery by an ecologist aiming to identify habitat types. We generated customised farm reports that included a colour-coded farm habitat map and habitat information (type, area, relative wildlife importance). Visual assessment of satellite imagery achieved an overall accuracy of 96% in its ability to discriminate between land parcels with habitats categorised by this study as being of either high or low nature conservation value. Assessment of satellite imagery achieved an overall accuracy of 90% in its ability to discriminate among Fossitt level II habitat classes, and an overall accuracy of 81% when using individual habitat classes (Fossitt level III). There was, however, considerable variation in the accuracy associated with individual habitat classes. We conclude that this methodology based on satellite imagery is sufficiently accurate to be used for the incorporation of farmland habitats into farm-scale sustainability assurance, but should, at most, use Fossitt level II habitat classes. We discuss future challenges and opportunities for the development of farm habitat maps and plans for their use in sustainability certification schemes.
  • 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.

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