• Pathways for nutrient loss to water with emphasis on phosphorus

      Tunney, Hubert; Kiely, Gerard; Morgan, Ger; Moles, Richard; Byrne, Paul; Jordan, Philip; Daly, Karen M.; Doody, Donnacha G.; Kurz, Isabelle; Bourke, David; et al. (Teagasc, 01/06/2007)
      The main objective of this project was to study phosphorus (P) loss from agricultural land under a range of conditions in Ireland, to quantify the main factors influencing losses and make recommendations on ways to reduce these losses. This report is a synthesis of the main conclusions and recommendations from the results of the studies. The final reports from the individual sub-projects in this project are available from the EPA (www.epa.ie).
    • Pedotransfer functions for Irish soils – estimation of bulk density (ρb) per horizon type

      Reidy, Brian; Simo, Iolanda; Sills, P.; Creamer, Rachel E.; Environmental Protection Agency (European Geosciences Union, 18/01/2016)
      Soil bulk density is a key property in defining soil characteristics. It describes the packing structure of the soil and is also essential for the measurement of soil carbon stock and nutrient assessment. In many older surveys this property was neglected and in many modern surveys this property is omitted due to cost both in laboratory and labour and in cases where the core method cannot be applied. To overcome these oversights pedotransfer functions are applied using other known soil properties to estimate bulk density. Pedotransfer functions have been derived from large international data sets across many studies, with their own inherent biases, many ignoring horizonation and depth variances. Initially pedotransfer functions from the literature were used to predict different horizon type bulk densities using local known bulk density data sets. Then the best performing of the pedotransfer functions were selected to recalibrate and then were validated again using the known data. The predicted co-efficient of determination was 0.5 or greater in 12 of the 17 horizon types studied. These new equations allowed gap filling where bulk density data were missing in part or whole soil profiles. This then allowed the development of an indicative soil bulk density map for Ireland at 0–30 and 30–50 cm horizon depths. In general the horizons with the largest known data sets had the best predictions, using the recalibrated and validated pedotransfer functions.
    • Phosphorus and nitrogen losses from temperate permanent grassland on clay-loam soil after the installation of artificial mole and gravel mole drainage

      Valbuena-Parralejo, N.; Fenton, Owen; Tuohy, Patrick; Williams, M.; Lanigan, Gary; Humphreys, James; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the MArine; RSF11152 (Elsevier, 2018-12-14)
      Mole (M) and gravel-mole (GM) drainage systems improve the permeability of soils with high clay contents. They collect and carry away infiltrating water during episodic rainfall events. Characterisation of nutrient fluxes (concentration and flows) in overland flow (OF) and in mole drain flow (MF) across sequential rainfall events is important for environmental assessment of such drainage systems. The objective of this study is to assess the impact of drainage systems on soil nutrient losses. Three treatments were imposed on grazed permanent grassland on a clay loam soil in Ireland (52°30′N, 08°12′W) slope 1.48%: undrained control (C), mole drainage (M) and gravel mole drainage (GM). Plots (100 m × 15 m) were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replicated blocks. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations in OF, MF and groundwater (GW) were measured from each plot over 15 consecutive rainfall events. The results showed that M and GM (P < 0.05) deepened the watertable depth and decreased OF. M and GM increased losses of nitrate-N (22%) and ammonium-N (14%) in GW. Nitrate-N concentrations from all the flow pathways (mean and standard error (s.e.): 0.99 s.e. 0.10 mg L−1) were well below the 11.3 mg L−1 threshold for drinking water. Ammonium-N concentrations from all the flow pathways (mean: 0.64 s.e. 0.14 mg L−1) exceeded drinking water quality standards. On the other hand M and GM lowered total P losses (mean annual losses from C, M and GM: 918, 755 and 853 s.e. 14.1 g ha−1 year−1) by enhancing soil P sorption. Hence M and GM can be implemented on farms under similar management to that described in the present study with a minor impact on N (increased concentration on averaged 18% to GW) and P (reduced by on avenged 114 g ha−1 year−1).
    • Phosphorus management on Irish dairy farms post controls introduced under the EU Nitrates Directive

      Buckley, Cathal; Wall, David; Moran, Brian; O'Neill, Stephen; Murphy, Paul N. C.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Elsevier, 08/11/2015)
      The Republic of Ireland was one of a minority of EU member states to include direct controls on chemical phosphorus (P) fertilisers in its EU Nitrates Directive National Action Plan, first introduced in 2006. This study estimates farm gate phosphorus balances and use efficiencies across 150 specialist dairy farms over the seven year period since these controls were introduced (2006–2012) using nationally representative data. Results indicate that P balances declined by 50% over the study period from 11.9 in 2006 to 6.0 kg ha− 1 in 2012. This decline was driven by a reduction in chemical fertiliser imports of 6.5 kg ha− 1. This is equivalent to a reduction of 281 kg of P and represents a cost saving of €812 per annum across the average farm. Phosphorus use efficiency also improved over the period from 60% in 2006 to 78% in 2012, peaking in 2011 at 88.3%. This was achieved while increasing milk solids output per hectare and per cow. Results of a random effects panel data model indicated that P balance and use efficiency are significantly influenced by factors such as fertiliser prices, stocking rates, land use potential, use of milk recording technology, contact with extension services and rainfall patterns.
    • Phylogenetic and functional potential links pH and N2O emissions in pasture soils

      Samad, Sainur; Biswas, Ambarish; Bakken, Lars R.; Clough, Timothy J.; de Klein, Cecile A.M.; Richards, Karl G.; Lanigan, Gary; Morales, Sergio E.; New Zealand Fund for Global Partnerships in Livestock Emissions Research (Nature Publishing Group, 26/10/2016)
      Denitrification is mediated by microbial, and physicochemical, processes leading to nitrogen loss via N2O and N2 emissions. Soil pH regulates the reduction of N2O to N2, however, it can also affect microbial community composition and functional potential. Here we simultaneously test the link between pH, community composition, and the N2O emission ratio (N2O/(NO + N2O + N2)) in 13 temperate pasture soils. Physicochemical analysis, gas kinetics, 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, metagenomic and quantitative PCR (of denitrifier genes: nirS, nirK, nosZI and nosZII) analysis were carried out to characterize each soil. We found strong evidence linking pH to both N2O emission ratio and community changes. Soil pH was negatively associated with N2O emission ratio, while being positively associated with both community diversity and total denitrification gene (nir & nos) abundance. Abundance of nosZII was positively linked to pH, and negatively linked to N2O emissions. Our results confirm that pH imposes a general selective pressure on the entire community and that this results in changes in emission potential. Our data also support the general model that with increased microbial diversity efficiency increases, demonstrated in this study with lowered N2O emission ratio through more efficient conversion of N2O to N2.
    • Predicted distribution of High Nature Value farmland in the Republic of Ireland

      Matin, Shafique; Sullivan, C. A.; O hUallachain, Daire; Meredith, David; Moran, James; Finn, John; green, stuart; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/108 (Taylor & Francis, 2016-08-31)
      High Nature Value (HNV) farmland is typically characterised by low-intensity farming associated with high biodiversity and species of conservation concern. Mapping the occurrence and distribution of such farmland are useful for appropriate targeting of conservation measures and supporting associated rural communities. We mapped the likely distribution of HNV farmland in the Republic of Ireland using a linear regression model incorporating established European indicators, adapted for Ireland and weightings based on expert opinion. The indicators used were semi-natural habitat cover, stocking density, hedgerow density, river and stream density and soil diversity, with highest weightings placed on the first two indicators (40% and 30%, respectively). The map provides information on the likely occurrence and distribution of HNV farmland in each electoral division as a reference point for future monitoring of the distribution of HNV farmland in the Republic of Ireland in order to assist with planning and policy development for the rural environment.
    • Predicting soil moisture conditions for arable free draining soils in Ireland under spring cereal crop production

      Premrov, Alina; Schulte, Rogier P.; Coxon, Catherine E.; Hackett, Richard; Richards, Karl G. (Teagasc, 2010)
      Temporal prediction of soil moisture and evapotranspiration has a crucial role in agricultural and environmental management. A lack of Irish models for predicting evapotranspiration and soil moisture conditions for arable soils still represents a knowledge gap in this particular area of Irish agro-climatic modelling. The soil moisture deficit (SMD) crop model presented in this paper is based on the SMD hybrid model for Irish grassland (Schulte et al., 2005). Crop and site specific components (free-draining soil) have been integrated in the new model, which was calibrated and tested using soil tension measurements from two experimental sites located on a well-drained soil under spring barley cultivation in south-eastern Ireland. Calibration of the model gave an R2 of 0.71 for the relationship between predicted SMD and measured soil tension, while model testing yielded R2 values of 0.67 and 0.65 (two sites). The crop model presented here is designed to predict soil moisture conditions and effective drainage (i.e., leaching events). The model provided reasonable predictions of soil moisture conditions and effective drainage within its boundaries, i.e., free-draining land used for spring cereal production under Irish conditions. In general, the model is simple and practical due to the small number of required input parameters, and due to model outputs that have good practical applicability, such as for computing the cumulative amount of watersoluble nutrients leached from arable land under spring cereals in free-draining soils.
    • Predicting the Distribution of High Nature Value farmland in Ireland: IDEAL-HNV

      Finn, John; Sullivan, Caroline; O’hÚallacháin, Daire; green, stuart; Clifford, Brian; Matin, Shafique; Meredith, David; Moran, James (2020-08-28)
      Conference presentation outlining the IDEAL-HNV project
    • Quantification of In Situ Denitrification Rates in Groundwater Below an Arable and a Grassland System

      Jahangir, Mohammad M. R.; Johnston, Paul; Addy, K.; Khalil, Mohammed I.; Groffman, P.M.; Richards, Karl G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF 06383 (Springer Netherlands, 2013-08)
      Understanding denitrification rates in groundwater ecosystems can help predict where agricultural reactive nitrogen (N) contributes to environmental degradation. In situ groundwater denitrification rates were determined in subsoil, at the bedrock-interface and in bedrock at two sites, grassland and arable, using an in situ ‘push-pull’ method with 15N labelled nitrate (NO3--N). Measured groundwater denitrification rates ranged from 1.3 to 469.5 µg N kg-1d-1. Exceptionally high denitrification rates observed at the bedrock-interface at grassland site (470±152µg N kg-1d-1; SE, standard error) suggest that deep groundwater can serve as substantial hotspots for NO3--N removal. However, denitrification rates at the other locations were low and may not substantially reduce NO3--N delivery to surface waters. Denitrification rates were negatively correlated with ambient dissolved oxygen (DO), redox potential (Eh), ks and NO3- (all p-values p<0.01) and positively correlated with SO42- (p<0.05). Higher mean N2O/(N2O+N2) ratios at arable (0.28) site than the grassland (0.10) revealed that arable site has higher potential to indirect N2O emissions. Identification of areas with high and low denitrification and related site parameters can be a tool to manage agricultural N to safeguard the environment.
    • Quantitative risk assessment of antimicrobials in biosolids applied on agricultural land and potential translocation into food

      Clarke, Rachel; Healy, Mark G.; Fenton, Owen; Cummins, Enda; European Union ERASMUS+; 2014-1-MT01-K200-000327 (Elsevier, 2017-12-30)
      The use of biosolids as a fertiliser may be an indirect route for contaminants into the food chain. One of the main concerns regarding the spreading of biosolids on agricultural land is the potential uptake of contaminants into plants which may bio-transfer into grazing animals that supply the food chain directly (e.g. meat and milk) and hence are subsequently consumed. The aim of this project was to create a quantitative risk assessment model to estimate the fate and translocation of triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC) into the feed (grass) and food chain with subsequent human exposure. The model's results indicate that TCS and TCC have low potential to transfer into milk and beef following the ingestion of contaminated grass by dairy cows. Mean estimated TCS and TCC residues in milk and beef show that TCC had the greatest concentration (mean values of 7.77 × 10− 6 mg kg− 1 in milk and 1.36 × 10− 4 mg kg− 1 in beef). Human exposure results show that TCC was greater for milk consumption in infants (1–4 years) (mean value 1.14 × 10− 7 mg kg− 1 bw d− 1) and for beef consumption by teens (12–17 years) (mean value 6.87 × 10− 8 mg kg− 1 bw d− 1). Concentrations of TCS and TCC were well below the estimated acceptable daily intake (ADI). Human health risk was estimated by evaluation of the hazard quotient (HQ), which used the NOAEL as a toxicity endpoint, combined with milk and beef human exposure estimates. HQ results show that all values were < 0.01 (no existing risk). A sensitivity analysis revealed that the Kow and initial concentration in biosolids as the parameters of greatest importance (correlation coefficients 0.91 and 0.19, respectively). This highlights the importance of physio-chemical properties of the compounds and their detection in biosolids post wastewater treatment along with their persistence in soil following application. This model is a valuable tool in which to ascertain the potential transfer of contaminants in the environment into animal forage with knock on consequences for exposure through the human food chain.
    • 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.
    • A rapid and multi-element method for the analysis of major nutrients in grass (Lolium perenne) using energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

      Daly, Karen M.; Fenelon, A. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 21/04/2017)
      Elemental analysis of grass (Lolium perenne) is essential in agriculture to ensure grass quality and animal health. Energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectroscopy is a rapid, multi-element alternative to current methods using acid digestion and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). Percentage phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca), determined from grass samples using EDXRF, were within 0.035, 0.319, 0.025 and 0.061, respectively, of ICP-OES values. Concordance correlation coefficients computed using agreement statistics ranged from 0.4379 to 0.9669 (values close to one indicate excellent agreement); however, the level of agreement for each element depended on the calibrations used in EDXRF. Empirical calibrations gave excellent agreement for percentage P, K and Ca, but moderate agreement for percentage Mg due to a weaker correlation between standards and intensities. Standardless calibration using the fundamental parameters (FP) approach exhibited bias, with consistently lower values reported for percentage P and Mg, when compared with ICP-OES methods. The relationship between the methods was plotted as scatter plots with the line of equality included, and although correlation coefficients indicated strong relationships, these statistics masked the effects of consistent bias in the data for percentage P and Mg. These results highlight the importance of distinguishing agreement from correlation when using statistical methods to compare methods of analysis. Agreement estimates improved when a matching library of grass samples was added to the FP method. EDXRF is a comparable alternative to conventional methods for grass analysis when samples of similar matrix type are used as empirical standards or as a matching library.
    • Real-time forecasting of pesticide concentrations in soil

      McGrath, Gavan; Rao, P. Suresh C.; Mellander, Per-Erik; Kennedy, Ivan; Rose, Michael; van Zwieten, Lukas; Grains Research and Development Corporation grant; Lee A. Reith Endowment in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University; Environmental Protection Agency; DAN00180; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-01-31)
      Forecasting pesticide residues in soils in real time is essential for agronomic purposes, to manage phytotoxic effects, and in catchments to manage surface and ground water quality. This has not been possible in the past due to both modelling and measurement constraints. Here, the analytical transient probability distribution (pdf) of pesticide concentrations is derived. The pdf results from the random ways in which rain events occur after pesticide application. First-order degradation kinetics and linear equilibrium sorption are assumed. The analytical pdfs allow understanding of the relative contributions that climate (mean storm depth and mean rainfall event frequency) and chemical (sorption and degradation) properties have on the variability of soil concentrations into the future. We demonstrated the two uncertain reaction parameters can be constrained using Bayesian methods. An approach to a Bayesian informed forecast is then presented. With the use of new rapid tests capable of providing quantitative measurements of soil concentrations in the field, real-time forecasting of future pesticide concentrations now looks possible for the first time. Such an approach offers new means to manage crops, soils and water quality, and may be extended to other classes of pesticides for ecological risk assessment purposes.
    • Reducing nitrous oxide emissions by changing N fertiliser use from calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) to urea based formulations

      Harty, Mary A.; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Watson, C. J.; McGeough, K. L.; Carolan, Rachael; Elliott, C.; Krol, Dominika; Laughlin, Ronald J.; Richards, Karl G.; Lanigan, Gary; et al. (Elsevier, 04/05/2016)
      The accelerating use of synthetic nitrogen (N) fertilisers, to meet the world's growing food demand, is the primary driver for increased atmospheric concentrations of nitrous oxide (N2O). The IPCC default emission factor (EF) for N2O from soils is 1% of the N applied, irrespective of its form. However, N2O emissions tend to be higher from nitrate-containing fertilisers e.g. calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) compared to urea, particularly in regions, which have mild, wet climates and high organic matter soils. Urea can be an inefficient N source due to NH3 volatilisation, but nitrogen stabilisers (urease and nitrification inhibitors) can improve its efficacy. This study evaluated the impact of switching fertiliser formulation from calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) to urea-based products, as a potential mitigation strategy to reduce N2O emissions at six temperate grassland sites on the island of Ireland. The surface applied formulations included CAN, urea and urea with the urease inhibitor N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) and/or the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD). Results showed that N2O emissions were significantly affected by fertiliser formulation, soil type and climatic conditions. The direct N2O emission factor (EF) from CAN averaged 1.49% overall sites, but was highly variable, ranging from 0.58% to 3.81. Amending urea with NBPT, to reduce ammonia volatilisation, resulted in an average EF of 0.40% (ranging from 0.21 to 0.69%)-compared to an average EF of 0.25% for urea (ranging from 0.1 to 0.49%), with both fertilisers significantly lower and less variable than CAN. Cumulative N2O emissions from urea amended with both NBPT and DCD were not significantly different from background levels. Switching from CAN to stabilised urea formulations was found to be an effective strategy to reduce N2O emissions, particularly in wet, temperate grassland.
    • Relating growth potential and biofilm formation of Shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli to in planta colonisation and the metabolome of ready- to-eat crops

      Merget, Bernhard; Forbes, Ken J; Brennan, Fiona P.; McAteer, Sean P; Shepherd, Tom; Strachan, Norval J; Holden, Nicola; FSA; Scottish Rural & Environment Science & Analytical Services Division; FS101056 (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 2019-01-17)
      Contamination of fresh produce with pathogenic Escherichia coli, including Shigatoxigenic E. coli (STEC), represents a serious risk to human health. Colonisation is governed by multiple bacterial and plant factors that can impact on the probability and suitability of bacterial growth. Thus, we aimed to determine whether the growth potential of STEC for plants associated with foodborne outbreaks (two leafy vegetables and two sprouted seed species), is predictive for colonisation of living plants as assessed from growth kinetics and biofilm formation in plant extracts. Fitness of STEC was compared to environmental E. coli, at temperatures relevant to plant growth. Growth kinetics in plant extracts varied in a plant-dependent and isolate-dependent manner for all isolates, with spinach leaf lysates supporting the fastest rates of growth. Spinach extracts also supported the highest levels of biofilm formation. Saccharides were identified as the major driver of bacterial growth, although no single metabolite could be correlated with growth kinetics. The highest level of in planta colonisation occurred on alfalfa sprouts, though internalisation was 10-times more prevalent in the leafy vegetables than in sprouted seeds. Marked differences in in planta growth meant that growth potential could only be inferred for STEC for sprouted seeds. In contrast, biofilm formation in extracts related to spinach colonisation. Overall, the capacity of E. coli to colonise, grow and internalise within plants or plant-derived matrices were influenced by the isolate type, plant species, plant tissue type and temperature, complicating any straight-forward relationship between in vitro and in planta behaviours. Importance Fresh produce is an important vehicle for STEC transmission and experimental evidence shows that STEC can colonise plants as secondary hosts, but differences in the capacity to colonise occur between different plant species and tissues. Therefore, an understanding of the impact of these plant factors have on the ability of STEC to grow and establish is required for food safety considerations and risk assessment. Here, we determined whether growth and the ability of STEC to form biofilms in plants extracts could be related to specific plant metabolites or could predict the ability of the bacteria to colonise living plants. Growth rates for sprouted seeds (alfalfa and fenugreek) exhibited a positive relationship between plant extracts and living plants, but not for leafy vegetables (lettuce and spinach). Therefore, the detailed variations at the level of the bacterial isolate, plant species and tissue type all need to be considered in risk assessment.
    • A Response to the Draft National Mitigation Plan. Teagasc submission to the Department of Communications, Climate Action & theEnvironment

      Lanigan, Gary; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Gultzer, Carsten; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Farrelly, Niall; Shalloo, Laurence; O’Brien, Donal; Ryan, Mary; Murphy, Pat; et al. (Teagasc, 2017-04)
      This submission details the mitigation potential of agriculture to shortly be published as an update to the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) for Agriculture and and describes how the MACC mitigation strategies relate to the measures in the National Mitigation Plan.
    • A review of evidence on the environmental impact of Ireland’s Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS)

      Finn, John; O hUallachain, Daire (Royal Irish Academy, 2012-04)
      Since its inception in 1994, there has been strong demand for evidence of the environmental effectiveness of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), which paid farmers in the Republic of Ireland over €3 billion by 2010. A variety of research projects have been undertaken that investigate the environmental effects of REPS through an examination of either specific environmental measures or specific geographical areas. A review of available publications confirmed the absence of a comprehensive, national-scale study of the environmental impacts of REPS. Because of this, there is insufficient evidence with which to judge the environmental effectiveness of the national-scale implementation of the whole scheme. For some specific measures, however, sufficient evidence is available to inform an objective assessment in some cases, and to help learn how to improve environmental effectiveness in most cases. The majority of the REPS payments are now dedicated toward biodiversity objectives. Thus, biodiversity measures and options should be a priority for any national-scale environmental assessment of the scheme. Such a study would help identify the environmental benefits of REPS, the specific elements of REPS that are performing adequately, and those elements that are in need of improvement. Given the considerable overlap between REPS measures and options and those included in the 2010 Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS), assessment of REPS measures could also be used to inform the likely environmental performance of the AEOS.
    • A review of nitrous oxide mitigation by farm nitrogen management in temperate grassland-based agriculture

      Li, Dejun; Watson, C. J.; Yan, Ming Jia; Lalor, Stanley T. J.; Rafique, Rashid; Hyde, Bernard; Lanigan, Gary; Richards, Karl G.; Holden, Nicholas M.; Humphreys, James; et al. (Elsevier, 20/07/2013)
      Nitrous oxide (N2O) emission from grassland-based agriculture is an important source of atmospheric N2O. It is hence crucial to explore various solutions including farm nitrogen (N) management to mitigate N2O emissions without sacrificing farm profitability and food supply. This paper reviews major N management practices to lower N2O emission from grassland-based agriculture. Restricted grazing by reducing grazing time is an effective way to decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Balancing the protein-to-energy ratios in the diets of ruminants can also decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Among the managements of synthetic fertilizer N application, only adjusting fertilizer N rate and slow-released fertilizers are proven to be effective in lowering N2O emissions. Use of bedding materials may increase N2O emissions from animal houses. Manure storage as slurry, manipulating slurry pH to values lower than 6 and storage as solid manure under anaerobic conditions help to reduce N2O emissions during manure storage stage. For manure land application, N2O emissions can be mitigated by reducing manure N inputs to levels that satisfy grass needs. Use of nitrification inhibitors can substantially lower N2O emissions associated with applications of fertilizers and manures and from urine patches. N2O emissions from legume based grasslands are generally lower than fertilizer-based systems. In conclusion, effective measures should be taken at each step during N flow or combined options should be used in order to mitigate N2O emission at the farm level.
    • A review of phosphorus and sediment release from Irish tillage soils, the methods used to quantify losses and the current state of mitigation practice

      Regan, J. T.; Fenton, Owen; Healy, Mark G.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Royal Irish Academy, 20/03/2012)
      Throughout the European Union (EU), agricultural soils with high phosphorus (P) status due to surplus fertiliser input have been identifi ed as a landscape pressure impacting on water quality. In Republic of Ireland, approximately 80% of agricultural land is devoted to grass, 11% to rough grazing, and 9% to arable cereal and crop production. Consequently, the majority of erosion research has focused on quantifying nutrient and sediment losses from grassland. Tillage soils are, however, more susceptible to erosion than grassland soils and, in general, have higher levels of soil P. This paper reviews the current state of research and the regulatory regime relating to diffuse P and sediment loss for tillage soils. It identifi es the key threats to soil quality associated with cultivated soils, and proposes the targeting and remediation of critical source areas for effective mitigation of P losses from tillage soils. A multiscaled approach is recommended, in which catchment and field-scale monitoring is complemented with controlled laboratory and small plot-scale rainfall simulation experiments to identify areas where P loss and soil erosion are at critical levels and may pose a threat to water quality. Catchment scale research will help to link critical source areas of sediment and P loss with hydrological pathways to surface waters in the catchment area. These areas can then be targeted for remediation in the river basin management plans.
    • A review of remediation and control systems for the treatment of agricultural waste water in Ireland to satisfy the requirements of the water framework directive

      Fenton, Owen; Healy, Mark G.; Schulte, Rogier P. (Royal Irish Academy, 28/08/2008)
      In Ireland agricultural activities have been identified as major sources of nutrient input to receiving waters, and it has been estimated that these activities contribute 75.3% of the N and 33.4% of the P found in these waters. The strategy at European level focuses on the prevention of nutrient loss by improved farm management. However, it does not focus on nutrient remediation or incidental nutrient loss from farmyard manures to surface water and groundwater. This review describes the impact of agriculture on the environment in Ireland and examines emerging technologies for agricultural waste-water treatment. An integrated approach at pretreatment and field stages for nitrate (NO3) remediation and P control is recommended.