• 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.
    • 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.
    • Riparian vegetated margins and small mammal communities: Implications for agri-environment schemes

      O hUallachain, Daire; Madden, D.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin in association with Teagasc, 2011)
      Small mammals play a vital role in agricultural ecosystems and influence the diversity and abundance of avian and terrestrial predators. Increasing small mammal populations on farmland is important for improving the biodiversity of agricultural ecosystems. This study assessed the small mammal communities associated with 42 riparian margins in the south-east of Ireland. Riparian margins were separated into those dominated by grassy, scrubby or woody vegetation. Results suggested that riparian margins dominated by woody vegetation had the greatest abundance of small mammals. Significantly more small mammals were captured in woody habitats as opposed to grassy or scrubby habitats. Although they had the greatest abundance of small mammals, woody habitats showed the least diversity, with the small mammal community consisting almost entirely of woodmice. Results from this study suggest that current Irish agri-environmental measures, which can lead to succession of vegetation and result in scrub and wood dominated margins, do not promote small mammal diversity in riparian margins. Current prescriptions are not providing optimal habitat for protected species such as the pygmy shrew. Future agri-environment measures should promote heterogeneity of watercourse margins, which in turn will enhance small mammal abundance and also their diversity.
    • Risk Assessment of E. coli Survival Up to the Grazing Exclusion Period After Dairy Slurry, Cattle Dung, and Biosolids Application to Grassland

      Ashekuzzaman, S.M.; Richards, Karl G.; Ellis, Stephanie; Tyrrel, Sean; O'Leary, Emma; Griffiths, Bryan; Ritz, Karl; Fenton, Owen; European Union; 265269 (Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 10/07/2018)
      Grassland application of dairy slurry, cattle dung, and biosolids offers an opportunity to recycle valuable nutrients (N, P, and K), which may all introduce pathogens to the soil environment. Herein, a temporal risk assessment of the survival of Escherichia coli (E. coli) up to 40 days in line with the legislated grazing exclusion time points after application was examined across six scenarios: (1) soil and biosolids mixture, (2) biosolids amended soil, (3) dairy slurry application, (4) cattle dung on pasture, (5) comparison of scenario 2, 3, and 4, and (6) maximum legal vs. excess rate of application for scenario 2 and 3. The risk model input parameters were taken or derived from regressions within the literature and an uncertainty analysis (n = 1,000 trials for each scenario) was conducted. Scenario 1 results showed that E. coli survival was higher in the soil/biosolids mixture for higher biosolids portion, resulting in the highest 20 day value of residual E. coli concentration (i.e., C20, log10 CFU g−1 dw) of 1.0 in 100% biosolids or inoculated soil and the lowest C20 of 0.098 in 75/25 soil/biosolids ratio, respectively, in comparison to an average initial value of 6.4 log10 CFU g−1 dw. The E. coli survival across scenario 2, 3, and 4 showed that the C20 value of biosolids (0.57 log10 CFU g−1 dw) and dairy slurry (0.74 log10 CFU ml−1) was 2.9–3.7 times smaller than that of cattle dung (2.12 log10 CFU g−1 dw). The C20 values of biosolids and dairy slurry associated with legal and excess application rates ranged from 1.14 to 1.71 log10 CFU ha−1, which is a significant reduction from the initial concentration range (12.99 to 14.83 log10 CFU ha−1). The E. coli survival in un-amended soil was linear with a very low decay rate resulting in a higher C20 value than that of biosolids or dairy slurry. The risk assessment and uncertainly analysis showed that the residual concentrations in biosolids/dairy slurry applied soil after 20 days would be 45–57% lower than that of the background soil E. coli concentration. This means the current practice of grazing exclusion times is safe to reduce the risk of E. coli transmission into the soil environment.
    • Risk Assessment of E. coli Survival Up to the Grazing Exclusion Period After Dairy Slurry, Cattle Dung, and Biosolids Application to Grassland

      Ashekuzzaman, S.M.; Richards, Karl G.; Ellis, Stephanie; Tyrrel, Sean; O'Leary, Emma; Griffiths, Bryan; Ritz, Karl; Fenton, Owen; European Union; 265269 (Frontiers, 2018-07-10)
      Grassland application of dairy slurry, cattle dung, and biosolids offers an opportunity to recycle valuable nutrients (N, P, and K), which may all introduce pathogens to the soil environment. Herein, a temporal risk assessment of the survival of Escherichia coli (E. coli) up to 40 days in line with the legislated grazing exclusion time points after application was examined across six scenarios: (1) soil and biosolids mixture, (2) biosolids amended soil, (3) dairy slurry application, (4) cattle dung on pasture, (5) comparison of scenario 2, 3, and 4, and (6) maximum legal vs. excess rate of application for scenario 2 and 3. The risk model input parameters were taken or derived from regressions within the literature and an uncertainty analysis (n = 1,000 trials for each scenario) was conducted. Scenario 1 results showed that E. coli survival was higher in the soil/biosolids mixture for higher biosolids portion, resulting in the highest 20 day value of residual E. coli concentration (i.e., C20, log10 CFU g−1 dw) of 1.0 in 100% biosolids or inoculated soil and the lowest C20 of 0.098 in 75/25 soil/biosolids ratio, respectively, in comparison to an average initial value of ~6.4 log10 CFU g−1 dw. The E. coli survival across scenario 2, 3, and 4 showed that the C20 value of biosolids (0.57 log10 CFU g−1 dw) and dairy slurry (0.74 log10 CFU ml−1) was 2.9–3.7 times smaller than that of cattle dung (2.12 log10 CFU g−1 dw). The C20 values of biosolids and dairy slurry associated with legal and excess application rates ranged from 1.14 to 1.71 log10 CFU ha−1, which is a significant reduction from the initial concentration range (12.99 to 14.83 log10 CFU ha−1). The E. coli survival in un-amended soil was linear with a very low decay rate resulting in a higher C20 value than that of biosolids or dairy slurry. The risk assessment and uncertainly analysis showed that the residual concentrations in biosolids/dairy slurry applied soil after 20 days would be 45–57% lower than that of the background soil E. coli concentration. This means the current practice of grazing exclusion times is safe to reduce the risk of E. coli transmission into the soil environment.
    • The short-term effects of management changes on watertable position and nutrients in shallow groundwater in a harvested peatland forest

      Finnegan, Joanne; Regan, J. T.; Fenton, Owen; Lanigan, Gary; Brennan, Raymond B.; Healy, Mark G.; Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Elsevier, 08/05/2014)
      Management changes such as drainage, fertilisation, afforestation and harvesting (clearfelling) of forested peatlands influence watertable (WT) position and groundwater concentrations of nutrients. This study investigated the impact of clearfelling of a peatland forest on WT and nutrient concentrations. Three areas were examined: (1) a regenerated riparian peatland buffer (RB) clearfelled four years prior to the present study (2) a recently clearfelled coniferous forest (CF) and (3) a standing, mature coniferous forest (SF), on which no harvesting took place. The WT remained consistently below 0.3 m during the pre-clearfelling period. Results showed there was an almost immediate rise in the WT after clearfelling and a rise to 0.15 m below ground level (bgl) within 10 months of clearfelling. Clearfelling of the forest increased dissolved reactive phosphorus concentrations (from an average of 28–230 μg L−1) in the shallow groundwater, likely caused by leaching from degrading brash mats.
    • The significance of livestock as a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions today and in the near future

      O'Mara, Frank P. (Elsevier Inc., 23/06/2011)
      Animal agriculture is responsible for 8–10.8% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as assessed by IPCC accounting and, on the basis of lifecycle analysis, the contribution of livestock is up to 18% of global emissions. Asia is the source of the most enteric CH4 emissions with Latin America, Africa, Western Europe and North America being significant sources. These emissions are dominated by emissions from cattle. When GHG emissions are related to food production, the four most efficient regions are Eastern and Western Europe, North America, and the non-EU former Soviet Union which produced 46.3% of ruminant meat and milk energy and only 25.5% of enteric CH4 emissions in 2005. In comparison, the three least efficient producers (Asia, Africa, Latin America) produced an equivalent amount (47.1%) of ruminant meat and milk energy, and almost 69% of enteric CH4 emissions in 2005. Livestock related emissions will increase as world population and food demand increases; enteric CH4 emissions are projected to grow by over 30% from 2000 to 2020. There are mitigations available now, but it is imperative to develop new mitigations and ways to implement existing technologies more cost effectively.
    • Soil bacterial community structure and functional responses across a long-term mineral phosphorus (Pi) fertilisation gradient differ in grazed and cut grasslands

      Randall, Kate; Brennan, Fiona P.; Clipson, Nicholas; Creamer, Rachel; Griffiths, Bryan; Storey, Sean; Doyle, Evelyn; Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions; European Regional Development Fund (Elsevier, 2019-03-06)
      Grasslands form a significant proportion of land used across the globe and future management is important. The objective of this study was to compare the long-term impact of inorganic phosphorus (Pi) fertilisation rates (P0, P15 and P30 ha−1 yr−1) under two grass management trials (grazed vs. cut and removed) on soil physicochemical properties, microbial biomass, phosphomonoesterase activity, bacterial community structure and abundance of a phosphorus (P) mineralising gene (phoD). Under grazing, microbial biomass and soil phosphorus concentrations (total and Pi) generally increased with Pi fertilisation rate, accompanied by significant differences in bacterial community structure between unfertilised (P0) and P30 soil. At the cut and removed site, although Pi was significantly greater in P30 soil, P concentrations (total and Pi) did not increase to the same extent as for grazing, with microbial biomass and bacterial community structures unresponsive to Pi fertilisation. Despite differences in soil P concentrations (total and Pi) and microbial biomass between sites, the abundance of bacterial phoD increased with increasing soil Pi across both sites, while phosphomonoesterase activity decreased. Amplicon sequencing revealed Acidobacteria were the dominant bacterial phylum across both grasslands, but significant differences in relative abundances of bacterial genera were detected at the grazed site only. The bacterial genera Gp6 and Gp16 increased significantly with Pi fertilisation under grazing. Conversely, Bradyrhizobium as well as unclassified genus-type groups belonging to Actinobacteria and Acidimicrobiales significantly decreased with Pi fertilisation, suggesting potential roles in P mobilisation when soil Pi concentrations are low. This study highlights the importance of long-term Pi fertilisation rates and aboveground vegetation removal in shaping soil bacterial community structure and microbial biomass, which in turn may impact soil fertility and plant productivity within agricultural soils.
    • Soil biodiversity, biological indicators and soil ecosystem services - an overview of European approaches

      Pulleman, Mirjam; Creamer, Rachel E.; Hamer, Ute; Helder, Johannes; Pelosi, Celine; Peres, Guenola; Rutgers, Michiel (Elsevier, 2012-11)
      Soil biota are essential for many soil processes and functions, yet there is an increasing pressure on soil biodiversity and soil degradation remains a pertinent issue. Therefore, the sustainable management of soils requires soil monitoring, including biological indicators able to relate land use and management to soil functioning and ecosystem services. Since the 1990’s, biological soil parameters have been assessed in an increasing number of field trials and monitoring programmes across Europe. The development and effective use of meaningful and widely applicable bio-indicators however, continues to be a challenging tasks. This paper aims to provide an overview of current knowledge in relation to soil biodiversity characterization and assessment. Examples of European monitoring approaches and soil biodiversity indicators are presented, and the value of soil biodiversity databases for developing a better understanding of the relations between soil management and ecosystem functions and services is discussed. We conclude that integration of monitoring approaches and data sets, together with state-of-the art ecological expertise, offers good opportunities for advancing ecological theory as well as application of such knowledge by decision makers.
    • 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.
    • Surface and Groundwater Interactions: Location of a sub-surface remediation trench

      Fenton, Owen (Teagasc, 01/12/2006)
      The Water Framework Directive aims to achieve at least “good status” of all surface and groundwater bodies by 2015. In 2009 programmes of measures to achieve this status must be implemented. In 2012 water quality response to these measures will be examined at river basin catchment level. The adoption of the Water Framework Directive from the 1st January 2007 restricts the amount of nutrients which can be applied to agricultural land. A nutrient discharge to a waterbody has a negative impact on the environment and may lead to eutrophication. A broad strategy exists at European level to minimise nutrient loss to a waterbody. This strategy examines the source/pressure, pathway and receptor approach for nutrient transport. Such nutrient management strategies try to minimise nutrient loss while maintaining productivity. Nitrogen usage is now associated with environmental degradation even at lower levels than the maximum allowable concentration (11.3 mg NO3-N L-1). A further strategy proposes that nutrient management and increased utilisation of nutrients alone will fail to recognise nutrient loss even at high levels of efficiency. This strategy attempts to use remediation (Nitrate) and control technologies (Phosphorous) to intercept nutrients before discharge. Another function would be to further reduce concentrations presently at allowable levels. This introduces an interceptor phase into the nutrient transfer model.