• Environmental footprint family to address local to planetary sustainability and deliver on the SDGs

      Vanham, Davy; Leip, Adrian; Galli, Alessandro; Kastner, Thomas; Bruckner, Martin; Uwizeye, Aimable; van Dijk, Kimo; Ercin, Ertug; Dalin, Carole; Brandão, Miguel; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2019-07-29)
      The number of publications on environmental footprint indicators has been growing rapidly, but with limited efforts to integrate different footprints into a coherent framework. Such integration is important for comprehensive understanding of environmental issues, policy formulation and assessment of trade-offs between different environmental concerns. Here, we systematize published footprint studies and define a family of footprints that can be used for the assessment of environmental sustainability. We identify overlaps between different footprints and analyse how they relate to the nine planetary boundaries and visualize the crucial information they provide for local and planetary sustainability. In addition, we assess how the footprint family delivers on measuring progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), considering its ability to quantify environmental pressures along the supply chain and relating them to the water-energy-food-ecosystem (WEFE) nexus and ecosystem services. We argue that the footprint family is a flexible framework where particular members can be included or excluded according to the context or area of concern. Our paper is based upon a recent workshop bringing together global leading experts on existing environmental footprint indicators.
    • Essential elements and heavy metal concentrations in a small area of the Castlecomer Plateau, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland: Implications for animal performance.

      Canty, M.J.; McCormack, Stephen; Lane, E.A.; Collins, D.M.; More, Simon J (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      Many ruminants are solely or mostly dependant for their nutrients, including essential elements, on the forage available to them, either in its natural state or conserved as hay or silage. A soil and herbage survey was carried out in April and September 2007, in a 3.1 km × 3.0 km grid, incorporating 106 and 46 sampling points, respectively, on the Castlecomer Plateau, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. The aim was to determine the nutrient and heavy metal status of soil and herbage in the sampling area, and to examine the concentrations observed for their potential to impact on animal performance. Low soil pH and high soil lime requirements were identified within the sampling area. The concentrations of Ca, Cu, Se and Zn were low in both soil and herbage. These conditions are similar to those found on other farms in Ireland. Fluoride was detected in 61 of the 97 herbage samples in April 2007, but only four exceeded 40 mg/kg dry matter, the maximum tolerable level for cattle. Mineral imbalances (Ca, Cu, Se and Zn) observed in pastures caused by low soil mineral status, exacerbated by low soil pH, could impair animal performance in the area studied.
    • Evaluating E. coli Transport Risk in Soil using Dye and Bromide Tracers

      Brennan, Fiona P.; Kramers, Gaelene; Grant, Jim; O'Flaherty, Vincent; Holden, Nicholas M.; Richards, Karl G.; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (Soil Science Society of America, 2012-03)
      Dye and bromide tracers are established methods of assessing the presence, function, and extent of hydrological pathways in soil. Prediction of E. coli transport pathways in soil, using brilliant blue (BB) dye and bromide tracers, was investigated using in situ field trials on three grassland soil types, under different moisture regimes. Passive transport through preferential flow routes was the dominant mechanism of vertical E. coli transport in the soils studied. However, lateral movement of E. coli from macropores to the soil matrix was also observed. E. coli transport was mainly associated with visualized infiltration patterns but there was some evidence of differential transport of BB and E. coli. Maximum E. coli depth was found not to co-occur with BB and bromide tracers in 44 and 71% of samples, respectively. Soil type and season of application were important in the distribution and maximum depth of E. coli, and the relationship between the bacterium and its tracers. Moisture content was found to be important for the relationship between E. coli and BB, and the extent of this effect varied with soil type. There was a trend of increasing E. coli concentrations to a peak sample moisture concentration of 0.3 to 0.4 g g−1 dry soil followed by a decrease. Overall BB was found to have greater predictive value than Br. Correlation and co-occurrence analysis found that shortly after land application both BB and Br were good predictors of E. coli transport pathways and distribution under certain conditions, but underestimate risk to shallow groundwater.
    • Evaluation of Amendments to Control Phosphorus Losses in Runoff from Dairy-Soiled Water

      Fenton, Owen; Serrenho, Ana; Healy, Mark G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF 07 525 (Springer, 2011-11)
      Amendments with the potential to reduce phosphorus (P) losses from agricultural grassland arising from the land application of dairy-soiled water (DSW) were investigated. Optimal application rates were studied, and associated costs and feasibility were estimated. First, batch tests were carried out to identify appropriate chemicals or phosphorus sorbing materials to control P in runoff from DSW. Then, the best four treatments were examined in an agitator test. In this test, soil—placed in a beaker—was loaded with DSW or amended DSW at a rate equivalent to 5 mm ha−1 (the maximum permissible application rate of DSW allowable in a 42-day period in Ireland). The soil was overlain with continuously stirred water to simulate runoff on land-applied DSW. Optimum application rates were selected based on percentage removal of dissolved reactive phosphorus in overlying water and the estimated cost of amendment. The costs of the amendments, per cubic metre of DSW, increased in the order: bottom ash (1.55 €), alum (1.67 to 1.92 €), FeCl2·4H2O (3.55 to 8.15 €), and lime (20.31 to 88.65 €). The feasibility of the amendments, taking into account their cost, potential adverse effects, public perception, and their performance, decreased in the order: alum > FeCl2·4H2O > bottom ash > lime. Amendments to DSW could be introduced in critical source areas—areas where high soil test P and direct migration pathways to a receptor overlap.
    • Evaluation of Amendments to Control Phosphorus Losses in Runoff from Pig Slurry Applications to Land

      O'Flynn, Cornelius J.; Fenton, Owen; Healy, Mark G.; Irish Research Council (WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH, 24/11/2011)
      If spread in excess of crop requirements, incidental phosphorus (P) losses from agriculture can lead to eutrophication of receiving waters. The use of amendments in targeted areas may help reduce the possibility of surface runoff of nutrients. The aim of this study was to identify amendments which may be effective in reducing incidental dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) losses in surface runoff from land applied pig slurry. For this purpose, the DRP losses under simulated conditions across the surface of intact grassland soil cores, loaded with unamended and amended slurry at a rate equivalent to 19 kg P ha−1, were determined over a 30 h period. The effectiveness of the amendments at reducing DRP in overlying water were (in decreasing order): alum (86%), flue gas desulfurization by-product (FGD) (74%), poly-aluminum (Al) chloride (PAC) (73%), ferric chloride (71%), fly ash (58%), and lime (54%). FGD was the most costly of all the treatments (€7.64/m3 for 74% removal). Ranked in terms of feasibility, which takes into account effectiveness, cost, and other potential impediments to use, they were: alum, ferric chloride, PAC, fly ash, lime, and FGD.
    • Evaluation of chemical amendments to control phosphorus losses from dairy slurry

      Brennan, Raymond B.; Fenton, Owen; Rodgers, M.; Healy, Mark G. (Wiley; British Society of Soil Science, 14/04/2011)
      Land application of dairy slurry can result in incidental losses of phosphorus (P) to runoff in addition to increased loss of P from soil as a result of a buildup in soil test P (STP). An agitator test was used to identify the most effective amendments to reduce dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) loss from the soil surface after land application of chemically amended dairy cattle slurry. This test involved adding slurry mixed with various amendments (mixed in a beaker using a jar test flocculator at 100 rpm), to intact soil samples at approximate field capacity. Slurry/amended slurry was applied with a spatula, submerged with overlying water and then mixed to simulate overland flow. In order of effectiveness, at optimum application rates, ferric chloride (FeCl2) reduced the DRP in overlying water by 88%, aluminium chloride (AlCl2) by 87%, alum (Al2(SO4)3·nH2O) by 83%, lime by 81%, aluminium water treatment residuals (Al-WTR; sieved to <2 mm) by 77%, flyash by 72%, flue gas desulphurization by-product by 72% and Al-WTR sludge by 71%. Ferric chloride (€4.82/m3 treated slurry) was the most cost-effective chemical amendment. However, Al compounds are preferred owing to stability of Al–P compared with Fe–P bonds. Alum is less expensive than AlCl2 (€6.67/m3), but the risk of effervescence needs further investigation at field-scale. Phosphorus sorbing materials (PSM) were not as efficient as chemicals in reducing DRP in overlying water. The amendments all reduced P loss from dairy slurry, but the feasibility of these amendments may be limited because of the cost of treatment.
    • Evaluation of headspace equilibration methods for quantifying greenhouse gases in groundwater

      Jahangir, Mohammad M. R.; Johnston, Paul; Khalil, Mohammed I.; Grant, Jim; Somers, Cathal; Richards, Karl G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin; RSF 06383 (Elsevier, 23/08/2012)
      The objective of the study was to evaluate the different headspace equilibration methods for the quantification of dissolved greenhouse gases in groundwater. Groundwater samples were collected from wells with contrasting hydrogeochemical properties and degassed using the headspace equilibration method. One hundred samples from each well were randomly selected, treatments were applied and headspace gases analysed by gas chromatography. Headspace equilibration treatments varied helium (He):water ratio, shaking time and standing time. Mean groundwater N2O, CO2 and CH4 concentrations were 0.024 mg N L−1, 13.71 mg C L−1 and 1.63 μg C L−1, respectively. All treatments were found to significantly influence dissolved gas concentrations. Considerable differences in the optimal He:water ratio and standing time were observed between the three gases. For N2O, CO2 and CH4 the optimum operating points for He:water ratio was 4.4:1, 3:1 and 3.4:1; shaking time was 13, 12 and 13 min; and standing time was 63, 17 and 108 min, respectively. The headspace equilibration method needs to be harmonised to ensure comparability between studies. The experiment reveals that He:water ratio 3:1 and shaking time 13 min give better estimation of dissolved gases than any lower or higher ratios and shaking times. The standing time 63, 17 and 108 min should be applied for N2O, CO2 and CH4, respectively.
    • Evaluation of Mehlich 3 as a Micronutrient Extractant on Irish Grassland Soils

      Brennan, Denis D. (2002)
      The use of multinutrient extractants has been increasing in recent years, Mehlich 3 (M3) being one that has gained wide acceptance. The objective of this study was to see how M3 compared with methods currently used in Ireland for Cu, Zn, Mn and Fe extraction, and to investigate if it could be used to determine available Mo. Samples from eight mineral soil types, four of sandstone/shale and four of limestone origin and some organic soils were analysed for the micronutrients Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo and Zn using M3 and conventional extractants. Herbage samples were taken from specific mineral soils and analysed for the same range of elements. M3 results showed good correlation with EDTA and DTPA extractable Cu and Zn, and with easily reducible Mn, but poor correlation with DTPA extractable Mn and Fe. It was not possible to measure Mo in the M3 extract. Inclusion of soil properties and interacting elements in multiple regression models improved the coefficients of determination. Different relationships between extractants were displayed for mineral and organic soils. All extractants were equal in their ability to predict micronutrient content of herbage. Differences between sandstone/shale and limestone soils in relation to herbage micronutrient content were also found; the better relationships were generally found on the sandstone/shale. Results are generally in line with published data, but disagree with those of some studies. M3 is subject to the same shortcomings as existing extractants, but it’s versatility and range does offer an advantage.
    • An evaluation of urine patch simulation methods for nitrous oxide emission measurement

      Forrestal, Patrick J.; Krol, Dominika; Lanigan, Gary; Jahangir, Mohammad M. R.; Richards, Karl G. (Cambridge University Press, 28/11/2016)
      Global nitrous oxide (N2O) inventory estimates for pasture systems are refined based on measurements of N2O loss from simulated urine patches. A variety of methods are used for patch simulation but they frequently use a uniform wetted area (UWA), often smaller than a bovine urine patch. However, natural patches follow non-uniform infiltration patterns expanding naturally from a point of deposit with a non-wetted zone of influence. Using 2 litres of urine the UWA method was compared, using a 0·156 m2 collar, with a naturally expanding effective area (NEEA) method, using a 0·462 m2 collar under high (HL) and low (LL) N2O loss conditions. The method chosen affects urine nitrogen (N) loading to the soil. Under HL the UWA method induced a N2O-N loss of 280·6 mg/patch, significantly less than the 434·8 mg/patch loss for the NEEA method, for the same simulated urination. Under LL there was no method effect. Efforts should be made to employ patch simulation methods, which mimic natural deposits and can be achieved, at least in part, by: (a) Using a urine volume and N content similar to that of the animal of interest. (b) Allowing natural infiltration of the chosen urine volume to permit tapering towards the edges. (c) Measuring from the zone of influence in addition to the wetted area, i.e. the patch effective area.
    • Exploring Climate‐Smart Land Management for Atlantic Europe

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

      Fenton, Owen; Healy, Mark G.; Henry, Tiernan; Khalil, Mohammed I.; Grant, Jim; Baily, Anne; Richards, Karl G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF 07 525; RSF 06 383 (Elsevier Science BV., 06/05/2011)
      Nitrate (NO3−) loss from agriculture to shallow groundwater and transferral to sensitive aquatic ecosystems is of global concern. Denitrifying bioreactor technology, where a solid carbon (C) reactive media intercepts contaminated groundwater, has been successfully used to convert NO3− to di-nitrogen (N2) gas. One of the challenges of groundwater remediation research is how to track denitrification potential spatially and temporally within reactive media and subsoil. First, using δ15N/δ18O isotopes, eight wells were divided into indicative transformational processes of ‘nitrification’ or ‘denitrification’ wells. Then, using N2/argon (Ar) ratios these wells were divided into ‘low denitrification potential’ or high denitrification potential’ categories. Secondly, using falling head tests, the saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) in each well was estimated, creating two groups of ‘slow’ (0.06 m day−1) and ‘fast’ (0.13 m day−1) wells, respectively. Thirdly, two ‘low denitrification potential’ wells (one fast and one slow) with high NO3− concentration were amended with woodchip to enhance denitrification. Water samples were retrieved from all wells using a low flow syringe to avoid de-gassing and analysed for N2/Ar ratio using membrane inlet mass spectrometry. Results showed that there was good agreement between isotope and chemical (N2/Ar ratio and dissolved organic C (DOC)) and physio-chemical (dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity and pH) parameters. To explain the spatial and temporal distribution of NO3− and other parameters on site, the development of predictive models using the available datasets for this field site was examined for NO3−, Cl−, N2/Ar and DOC. Initial statistical analysis was directed towards the testing of the effect of woodchip amendment. The analysis was formulated as a repeated measures analysis of the factorial structure for treatment and time. Nitrate concentrations were related to Ksat and water level (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.02, respectively), but did not respond to woodchip addition (p = 0.09). This non-destructive technique allows elucidation of denitrification potential over time and could be used in denitrifying bioreactor technology to assess denitrification hotspots in reactive media, while developing a NO3− spatial and temporal predictive model for bioreactor site specific conditions.
    • Exploring the sensitivity of visual soil evaluation to traffic-induced soil compaction

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

      Emmet-Booth, J.P.; Holden, N.M.; Fenton, Owen; Bondi, G; Forristal, P.D.; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13/S/468 (Elsevier, 2019-10-24)
      Visual Soil Evaluation (VSE) techniques are useful for assessing the impact of land management, particularly the identification and remediation of soil compaction. Despite an increasing body of VSE research, comparatively few studies have explored the sensitivity of VSE for capturing experimentally imposed compaction to estimate sensitivity and limit of detection. The aim of this research was to examine the ability of VSE techniques to indicate soil structure at different soil profile depths and to measure the associated soil productive function (yield) response to imposed compaction. A two-year experiment was conducted on sites with loam and sandy soils. Varying levels of wheeled traffic were imposed on plots in a randomised block design, prior to sowing winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Quantitative crop and soil measurements were taken throughout the season in conjunction with VSE techniques, which assessed to 25 cm (VESS), 40 cm (Double Spade) and 80 cm (SubVESS) depth. Graduated changes were observed by soil and some crop quantitative measurements as traffic treatment varied. VESS and Double Spade successfully identified a graduated treatment effect at all sites to 40 cm depth, although diagnosis translated into a yield response for the loam but not the sandy soil. Correlation between VESS Sq scores and crop yield were found. SubVESS gave mixed signals and indicated impacts lower in the profile in certain instances. These impacts were not captured by quantitative soil measurements.This work highlights the capacity for VSE techniques to indicate soil structural damage, which may cause a crop yield response, therefore allowing appropriate soil management strategies to be deployed before yield penalties occur.
    • 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.
    • Factors affecting nitrate distribution in shallow groundwater under a beef farm in South Eastern Ireland

      Fenton, Owen; Richards, Karl G.; Kirwan, Laura; Khalil, Mohammed I.; Healy, Mark G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF 07 525 (Elsevier, 2009-07)
      Groundwater contamination was characterised using a methodology which combines shallow groundwater geochemistry data from 17 piezometers over a 2 yr period in a statistical framework and hydrogeological techniques. Nitrate-N (NO3-N) contaminant mass flux was calculated across three control planes (rows of piezometers) in six isolated plots. Results showed natural attenuation occurs on site although the method does not directly differentiate between dilution and denitrification. It was further investigated whether NO3-N concentration in shallow groundwater (<5 m below ground level) generated from an agricultural point source on a 4.2 ha site on a beef farm in SE Ireland could be predicted from saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) measurements, ground elevation (m Above Ordnance Datum), elevation of groundwater sampling (screen opening interval) (m AOD) and distance from a dirty water point pollution source. Tobit regression, using a background concentration threshold of 2.6 mg NO3-N L-1 showed, when assessed individually in a step wise procedure, Ksat was significantly related to groundwater NO3-N concentration. Distance of the point dirty water pollution source becomes significant when included with Ksat in the model. The model relationships show areas with higher Ksat values have less time for denitrification to occur, whereas lower Ksat values allow denitrification to occur. Areas with higher permeability transport greater NO3-N fluxes to ground and surface waters. When the distribution of Cl- was examined by the model, Ksat and ground elevation had the most explanatory power but Ksat was not significant pointing to dilution having an effect. Areas with low NO3 concentration and unaffected Cl- concentration points to denitrification, low NO3 concentration and low Cl- chloride concentration points to dilution and combining these findings allows areas of denitrification and dilution to be inferred. The effect of denitrification is further supported as mean groundwater NO3-N was significantly (P<0.05) related to groundwater N2/Ar ratio, redox potential (Eh), dissolved O2 and N2 and was close to being significant with N2O (P=0.08). Calculating contaminant mass flux across more than one control plane is a useful tool to monitor natural attenuation. This tool allows the identification of hot spot areas where intervention other than natural attenuation may be needed to protect receptors.
    • Factors affecting nitrate distribution in shallow groundwater under a beef farm in South Eastern Ireland

      Fenton, Owen; Richards, Karl G.; Kirwan, Laura; Khalil, Mohammed I.; Healy, Mark G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Elsevier, 2009-07)
      Groundwater contamination was characterised using a methodology which combines shallow groundwater geochemistry data from 17 piezometers over a 2 yr period in a statistical framework and hydrogeological techniques. Nitrate–N (NO3-N) contaminant mass flux was calculated across three control planes (rows of piezometers) in six isolated plots. Results showed natural attenuation occurs on site although the method does not directly differentiate between dilution and denitrification. It was further investigated whether NO3-N concentration in shallow groundwater (<5 m below ground level) generated from an agricultural point source on a 4.2 ha site on a beef farm in SE Ireland could be predicted from saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) measurements, ground elevation (m Above Ordnance Datum), elevation of groundwater sampling (screen opening interval) (m AOD) and distance from a dirty water point pollution source. Tobit regression, using a background concentration threshold of 2.6 mg NO3-N L−1 showed, when assessed individually in a step wise procedure, Ksat was significantly related to groundwater NO3-N concentration. Distance of the point dirty water pollution source becomes significant when included with Ksat in the model. The model relationships show areas with higher Ksat values have less time for denitrification to occur, whereas lower Ksat values allow denitrification to occur. Areas with higher permeability transport greater NO3-N fluxes to ground and surface waters. When the distribution of Cl− was examined by the model, Ksat and ground elevation had the most explanatory power but Ksat was not significant pointing to dilution having an effect. Areas with low NO3 concentration and unaffected Cl− concentration points to denitrification, low NO3 concentration and low Cl− chloride concentration points to dilution and combining these findings allows areas of denitrification and dilution to be inferred. The effect of denitrification is further supported as mean groundwater NO3-N was significantly (P < 0.05) related to groundwater N2/Ar ratio, redox potential (Eh), dissolved O2 and N2 and was close to being significant with N2O (P = 0.08). Calculating contaminant mass flux across more than one control plane is a useful tool to monitor natural attenuation. This tool allows the identification of hot spot areas where intervention other than natural attenuation may be needed to protect receptors.
    • Farming for Nature. The Role of Results-Based Payments

      O'Rourke, Eileen; Finn, John (Teagasc and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), 2020)
      Agricultural habitats cover approximately half the European Union (EU) and an estimated 50% of all species and several habitats of conservation concern in the EU depend on agricultural management. Reversing the loss of European biodiversity is clearly dependent on the conservation of farmland biodiversity. Results-based approaches are the focus of a growing discussion about improved biodiversity conservation and environmental performance of EU agri-environmental policies. This book outlines lessons learned from a collection of Irish case studies that have implemented results-based approaches and payments for the conservation of farmland habitats and species. The case studies include prominent projects and programmes: the Burren Programme, AranLIFE, KerryLIFE, the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme and Result-Based Agri-environmental Payment Schemes (RBAPS) project. This work is intended for an international audience of practitioners, policymakers and academics interested in results-based approaches for the conservation of biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services.
    • The Farmland Wildlife Survey – raising awareness of wildlife habitats

      Gabbett, Mairead; Finn, John; The Heritage Council (Teagasc, 01/08/2005)
      The Farmland Wildlife Survey involved a short visit (about 3 hours) to 19 REPS demonstration farms, and an identification of habitats and wildlife on each farm, with an emphasis on common farmland habitats such as hedgerows, ponds, watercourses, field margins, woodland, plant species and other areas of wildlife value. The survey results were provided to the farmer and Teagasc REPS advisor as a report with colour pictures of representative habitats, and an explanation of why these habitats were important for wildlife.
    • Fertilizer Use Survey 1995

      Murphy, W.E.; Culleton, Noel; Roche, M.; Power, D. (Teagasc, 1997)
      The farm management data for 1994 and 1995 were used as the basis for a fertilizer use survey. The samples were drawn up by the Central Statistics Office on the basis of farm size and farming system. The survey was carried out on 1226 farms.
    • Field boundary habitats and their contribution to the area of semi-natural habitats on lowland farms in east Galway, western Ireland

      Sullivan, C. A.; Finn, John; Gormally, Michael; Sheehy Skeffington, Micheline; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Royal Irish Academy, 07/11/2013)
      Sustainable agriculture and the provision of environmental public goods are key deliverables for European farming and food production. Farmland biodiversity, cultural landscapes, soil functionality and climate stability are among the environmental public goods provided through agriculture. Future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) direct payments are intended to be more targeted at the provision of these agricultural deliverables. Field boundaries are an example of such deliverables. They are widespread features that have both environmental and aesthetic functions in farmed landscapes. However, research on their variety, density and contribution to semi-natural habitat cover on farms in Ireland is lacking. This study investigates the diversity and density of all field boundary habitat types on 32 lowland farms in east County Galway, western Ireland. A total of 286km of field boundaries were surveyed across six study sites. Five types of field boundary habitats were recorded. The density of field boundaries on the farms studied was high and could have positive implications for delivery of environmental public goods and sustainable farming metrics. In more intensively farmed areas, field boundaries were the only remaining semi-natural habitat on some farms highlighting the need to retain, and improve the ecological quality, of these features. The condition of one field boundary type (hedgerows) was also investigated in further detail. While the density of field boundaries was high on many of the surveyed farms, we found that the hedgerows on these farms were not necessarily in good condition for wildlife.