• A comparison of SWAT, HSPF and SHETRAN/GOPC for modelling phosphorus export from three catchments in Ireland

      Nasr, Ahmed Elssidig; Bruen, Michael; Jordan, Philip; Moles, Richard; Kiely, Gerard; Byrne, Paul; Environmental Protection Agency; Teagasc; Teagasc (Elsevier, 02/07/2012)
      Recent extensive water quality surveys in Ireland revealed that diffuse phosphorus (P) pollution originating from agricultural land and transported by runoff and subsurface flows is the primary cause of the deterioration of surface water quality. P transport from land to water can be described by mathematical models that vary in modelling approach, complexity and scale (plot, field and catchment). Here, three mathematical models (SWAT, HSPF and SHETRAN/GOPC) of diffuse P pollution have been tested in three Irish catchments to explore their suitability in Irish conditions for future use in implementing the European Water Framework Directive. After calibrating the models, their daily flows and total phosphorus (TP) exports are compared and assessed. The HSPF model was the best at simulating the mean daily discharge while SWAT gave the best calibration results for daily TP loads. Annual TP exports for the three models and for two empirical models were compared with measured data. No single model is consistently better in estimating the annual TP export for all three catchments.
    • Assessments of Composite and Discrete Sampling Approaches for Water Quality Monitoring

      Cassidy, Rachel; Jordan, Phil; Bechmann, Marianne; Kronvang, Brian; Kyllmar, Katarina; Shore, Mairead (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2018-04-12)
      Achieving an operational compromise between spatial coverage and temporal resolution in national scale river water quality monitoring is a major challenge for regulatory authorities, particularly where chemical concentrations are hydrologically dependent. The efficacy of flow-weighted composite sampling (FWCS) approaches for total phosphorus (TP) sampling (n = 26–52 analysed samples per year), previously applied in monitoring programmes in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and which account for low to high flow discharges, was assessed by repeated simulated sampling on high resolution TP data. These data were collected in three research catchments in Ireland over the period 2010–13 covering a base-flow index range of 0.38 to 0.69. Comparisons of load estimates were also made with discrete (set time interval) daily and sub-daily sampling approaches (n = 365 to >1200 analysed samples per year). For all years and all sites a proxy of the Norwegian sampling approach, which is based on re-forecasting discharge for each 2-week deployment, proved most stable (median TP load estimates of 87–98%). Danish and Swedish approaches, using long-term flow records to set a flow constant, were only slightly less effective (median load estimates of 64–102% and 80–96%, respectively). Though TP load estimates over repeated iterations were more accurate using the discrete approaches, particularly the 24/7 approach (one sample every 7 h in a 24 bottle sampler - median % load estimates of 93–100%), composite load estimates were more stable, due to the integration of multiple small samples (n = 100–588) over a deployment.
    • Chronic nutrient inputs affect stream macroinvertebrate communities more than acute inputs: An experiment manipulating phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment

      Davis, Stephen J; O hUallachain, Daire; Mellander, Per-Erik; Matthaei, Christoph; Piggott, Jeremy; Kelly-Quinn, Mary; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier, 2019-05-07)
      Freshwaters worldwide are affected by multiple stressors. Timing of inputs and pathways of delivery can influence the impact stressors have on freshwater communities. In particular, effects of point versus diffuse nutrient inputs on stream macroinvertebrates are poorly understood. Point-source inputs tend to pose a chronic problem, whereas diffuse inputs tend to be acute with short concentration spikes. We manipulated three key agricultural stressors, phosphorus (ambient, chronic, acute), nitrogen (ambient, chronic, acute) and fine sediment (ambient, high), in 112 stream mesocosms (26 days colonisation, 18 days of manipulations) and determined the individual and combined effects of these stressors on stream macroinvertebrate communities (benthos and drift). Chronic nutrient treatments continuously received high concentrations of P and/or N. Acute channels received the same continuous enrichment, but concentrations were doubled during two 3-hour periods (day 6, day 13) to simulate acute nutrient inputs during rainstorms. Sediment was the most pervasive stressor in the benthos, reducing total macroinvertebrate abundance and richness, EPT (mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies) abundance and richness. By contrast, N or P enrichment did not affect any of the six studied community-level metrics. In the drift assemblage, enrichment effects became more prevalent the longer the experiment went on. Sediment was the dominant driver of drift responses at the beginning of the experiment. After the first acute nutrient pulse, sediment remained the most influential stressor but its effects started to fade. After the second pulse, N became the dominant stressor. In general, impacts of either N or P on the drift were due to chronic exposure, with acute nutrient pulses having no additional effects. Overall, our findings imply that cost-effective management should focus on mitigating sediment inputs first and tackle chronic nutrient inputs second. Freshwater managers should also take into account the length of exposure to high nutrient concentrations, rather than merely the concentrations themselves.
    • Comparison of physically based catchment models for estimating Phosphorus losses

      Nasr, Ahmed Elssidig; Bruen, Michael; Environmental Protection Agency; Teagasc (IWA publishing, 02/07/2012)
      As part of a large EPA-funded research project, coordinated by TEAGASC, the Centre for Water Resources Research at UCD reviewed the available distributed physically based catchment models with a potential for use in estimating phosphorous losses for use in implementing the Water Framework Directive. Three models, representative of different levels of approach and complexity, were chosen and were implemented for a number of Irish catchments. This paper reports on (i) the lessons and experience gained in implementing these models, (ii) compares the performances of the individual models and (iii) assesses their sensitivities to the main parameters and to spatial scales.
    • Defining optimal DEM resolutions and point densities for modelling hydrologically sensitive areas in agricultural catchments dominated by microtopography

      Thomas, Ian; Jordan, Philip; Shine, Oliver; Fenton, Owen; Mellander, Per-Erik; Dunlop, Paul; Murphy, Paul N. C.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier, 2016-09-16)
      Defining critical source areas (CSAs) of diffuse pollution in agricultural catchments depends upon the accurate delineation of hydrologically sensitive areas (HSAs) at highest risk of generating surface runoff pathways. In topographically complex landscapes, this delineation is constrained by digital elevation model (DEM) resolution and the influence of microtopographic features. To address this, optimal DEM resolutions and point densities for spatially modelling HSAs were investigated, for onward use in delineating CSAs. The surface runoff framework was modelled using the Topographic Wetness Index (TWI) and maps were derived from 0.25 m LiDAR DEMs (40 bare-earth points m−2), resampled 1 m and 2 m LiDAR DEMs, and a radar generated 5 m DEM. Furthermore, the resampled 1 m and 2 m LiDAR DEMs were regenerated with reduced bare-earth point densities (5, 2, 1, 0.5, 0.25 and 0.125 points m−2) to analyse effects on elevation accuracy and important microtopographic features. Results were compared to surface runoff field observations in two 10 km2 agricultural catchments for evaluation. Analysis showed that the accuracy of modelled HSAs using different thresholds (5%, 10% and 15% of the catchment area with the highest TWI values) was much higher using LiDAR data compared to the 5 m DEM (70–100% and 10–84%, respectively). This was attributed to the DEM capturing microtopographic features such as hedgerow banks, roads, tramlines and open agricultural drains, which acted as topographic barriers or channels that diverted runoff away from the hillslope scale flow direction. Furthermore, the identification of ‘breakthrough’ and ‘delivery’ points along runoff pathways where runoff and mobilised pollutants could be potentially transported between fields or delivered to the drainage channel network was much higher using LiDAR data compared to the 5 m DEM (75–100% and 0–100%, respectively). Optimal DEM resolutions of 1–2 m were identified for modelling HSAs, which balanced the need for microtopographic detail as well as surface generalisations required to model the natural hillslope scale movement of flow. Little loss of vertical accuracy was observed in 1–2 m LiDAR DEMs with reduced bare-earth point densities of 2–5 points m−2, even at hedgerows. Further improvements in HSA models could be achieved if soil hydrological properties and the effects of flow sinks (filtered out in TWI models) on hydrological connectivity are also considered.
    • Developing an independent, generic, phosphorus modelling component for use with grid-oriented, physically-based distributed catchment models

      Nasr, Ahmed Elssidig; Taskinen, Antti; Bruen, Michael; Environmental Protection Agency; Teagasc (02/07/2012)
      Grid-oriented, physically based catchment models calculate fields of various hydrological variables relevant to phosphorous detachment and transport. These include (i) for surface transport: overland flow depth and flow in the coordinate directions, sediment load, and sediment concentration and (ii) for subsurface transport: soil moisture and hydraulic head at various depths in the soil. These variables can be considered as decoupled from any chemical phosphorous model since phosphorous concentrations, either as dissolved or particulate, do not influence the model calculations of the hydrological fields. Thus the phosphorous concentration calculations can be carried out independently from and after the hydrological calculations. This makes it possible to produce a separate phosphorous modelling component which takes as input the hydrological fields produced by the catchment model and which calculates, at each step the phosphorous concentrations in the flows. This paper summarise the equations and structure of Grid Oriented Phosphorous Component (GOPC) developed for simulating the phosphorus concentrations and loads using the outputs of a fully distributed physical based hydrological model. Also the GOPC performance is illustrated by am example of an experimental catchment (created by the author) subjected to some ideal conditions.
    • Developing an independent, generic, phosphorus modelling component for use with grid-oriented, physically-based distributed catchment models

      Nasr, Ahmed Elssidig; Taskinen, Antti; Bruen, Michael (IWA Publishing, 02/07/2012)
      Grid-oriented, physically based catchment models calculate fields of various hydrological variables relevant to phosphorous detachment and transport. These include (i) for surface transport: overland flow depth and flow in the coordinate directions, sediment load, and sediment concentration and (ii) for subsurface transport: soil moisture and hydraulic head at various depths in the soil. These variables can be considered as decoupled from any chemical phosphorous model since phosphorous concentrations, either as dissolved or particulate, do not influence the model calculations of the hydrological fields. Thus the phosphorous concentration calculations can be carried out independently from and after the hydrological calculations. This makes it possible to produce a separate phosphorous modelling component which takes as input the hydrological fields produced by the catchment model and which calculates, at each step the phosphorous concentrations in the flows. This paper summarise the equations and structure of Grid Oriented Phosphorous Component (GOPC) developed for simulating the phosphorus concentrations and loads using the outputs of a fully distributed physical based hydrological model. Also the GOPC performance is illustrated by am example of an experimental catchment (created by the author) subjected to some ideal conditions.
    • Developing the EU Farm Accountancy Data Network to derive indicators around the sustainable use of nitrogen and phosphorus at farm level.

      Buckley, Cathal; Wall, David; Moran, Brian; Murphy, Paul N. C.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Springer, 2015-07)
      This study uses a national farm survey which is part of the European Union (EU) Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) to develop environmental sustainability indicators in the use of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) across a range of farm systems in the Republic of Ireland. Farm level micro data were used to calculate all inputs and outputs of N and P that cross the farm gate and to derive balances (kg ha-1) and overall use efficiencies across 827 farms in 2012. The sample is populated weighted to represents 71,480 farms nationally. Results indicated an average N balance of 71.0 kg ha-1 and use efficiency of 36.7% across the nationally representative sample. Nitrogen balances were between two and four times higher across specialist dairy farms compared to livestock rearing and specialist tillage systems. Nitrogen use efficiency was generally lowest across milk producing systems compared to livestock rearing and tillage systems. Phosphorus balance and use efficiency averaged 4.7 kg ha-1 and 79.6% respectively across the sample. Specialist tillage and dairying farms had higher average P balances compared to other livestock based systems. The approach developed in this analysis will form the benchmark for temporal analysis across these indicators for future nutrient balance and efficiency trends and could assist other members of the EU FADN to develop similar nationally representative indicators.
    • Eutrophication from agricultural sources : a comparison of SWAT, HSPF and SHETRAN/GOPC phosphorus models for three Irish catchments - Final Report

      Nasr, Ahmed Elssidig; Bruen, Michael (University College Dublin. Centre for Water Resources Research, 02/07/2012)
      Phosphorous has been implicated as the primary cause of the deterioration of surface water quality in Ireland. Extensive water quality surveys revealed that diffuse sources (runoff and subsurface flows) from agricultural land are the major contributors of phosphorus to surface waters. The mechanism of phosphorus movement from land to water can be described by a number of mathematical models that vary in modelling approaches and scales (plot, field and catchment). In this work three efficient mathematical models of diffuse source pollution in general and of phosphorus in particular have been applied, for the first time, to three Irish catchments (Clarianna (Co. Tipperary), Dripsey (Co. Cork) and Oona (Co. Tyrone)) in order to explore the suitability of these models in Irish conditions for future use in implementing the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). The models are: (i) Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), (ii) Hydrological Simulation Programme FORTRAN (HSPF) and (iii) Système Hydrologique Européen TRAnsport (SHETRAN). The first two can model phosphorus production directly while the third can calculate fields of various hydrological variables relevant to phosphorous modelling. For the latter, a generic phosphorus modelling component called Grid Oriented Phosphorus Component (GOPC) has been developed here to model the phosphorus detachment and transport by taking as inputs the hydrological fields produced by any physically-based distributed catchment model such as SHETRAN. The three models have been successfully transferred to Irish conditions and this required the build up of a database consisting of topographic, land use and soil maps, water quality and weather data. The models application involved two stages. In the first stage, hydrological variables (evaporation, runoff, etc.) within the catchment domains were simulated by each of the three models. The second stage uses the outputs of the first in order to estimate the amount of phosphorus loss from the catchments. The SWAT, HSPF, and SHETRAN/GOPC models have been calibrated and then compared and assessed on the basis of their ability to fit and reproduce the flow discharges and phosphorus loads and concentrations for the three test catchments. The findings from the flow and phosphorus calibrations of SWAT and HSPF models were generally consistence with what have been found from previous studies outside Ireland. However, the simple structure of the first order kinetics method used for phosphorus modelling in HSPF has generally impeded the freedom of the phosphorus calibration which was noticeably difficult. Application of the SHETRAN model to the study catchments has illustrated the importance of carefully assigning the parameters related to the soil water modelling, particularly the parameters of the van Genuchten soil-hydraulic function, in order to obtain the best results. The GOPC performance has been found to depend significantly on the SHETRAN model which provided the required hydrological variables. The flow comparison has showed that in the three catchments, the HSPF model was the best in simulating the mean daily discharges. Moreover discharge simulation from an independent validation run of the three models in the Oona catchment have also demonstrated the superiority of the hydrological component of HSPF. However, the best calibration results for daily total phosphorus loads in the study catchments has been achieved by the SWAT model. However from the validation in the Oona catchment the HSPF has been found better than the other two models, SWAT and GOPC, in simulating the total phosphorus loads. Generally the results of total phosphorus loads from the GOPC in the three catchments were quite good and this model has reproduced some observed values better than the best model, SWAT. Simulation of the daily dissolved reactive phosphorus loads by the three models in the study catchments have showed big differences between the simulated and the observed data in most of the cases. Results for mean daily total and dissolved reactive phosphorus concentrations from the three models were not as good as the results for the loads in the three catchments.
    • Eutrophication from agricultural sources : a comparison of SWAT, HSPF and SHETRAN/GOPC phosphorus models for three Irish catchments : executive summary

      Nasr, Ahmed Elssidig; Bruen, Michael (University College Dublin. Centre for Water Resources Research, 02/07/2012)
    • Functional Land Management for managing soil functions: A case-study of the trade-off between primary productivity and carbon storage in response to the intervention of drainage systems in Ireland

      O'Sullivan, L.; Creamer, Rachel; Fealy, Reamonn; Lanigan, Gary; Simo, I.; Fenton, Owen; Carfrae, J.; Schulte, R.P.O.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier BV, 2015-09)
      Globally, there is growing demand for increased agricultural outputs. At the same time, the agricultural industry is expected to meet increasingly stringent environmental targets. Thus, there is an urgent pressure on the soil resource to deliver multiple functions simultaneously. The Functional Land Management framework (Schulte et al., 2014) is a conceptual tool designed to support policy making to manage soil functions to meet these multiple demands. This paper provides a first example of a practical application of the Functional Land Management concept relevant to policy stakeholders. In this study we examine the trade-offs, between the soil functions ‘primary productivity’ and ‘carbon cycling and storage’, in response to the intervention of land drainage systems applied to ‘imperfectly’ and ‘poorly’ draining managed grasslands in Ireland. These trade-offs are explored as a function of the nominal price of ‘Certified Emission Reductions’ or ‘carbon credits’. Also, these trade-offs are characterised spatially using ArcGIS to account for spatial variability in the supply of soil functions. To manage soil functions, it is essential to understand how individual soil functions are prioritised by those that are responsible for the supply of soil functions – generally farmers and foresters, and those who frame demand for soil functions – policy makers. Here, in relation to these two soil functions, a gap exists in relation to this prioritisation between these two stakeholder groups. Currently, the prioritisation and incentivisation of these competing soil functions is primarily a function of CO2 price. At current CO2 prices, the agronomic benefits outweigh the monetised environmental costs. The value of CO2 loss would only exceed productivity gains at either higher CO2 prices or at a reduced discount period rate. Finally, this study shows large geographic variation in the environmental cost: agronomic benefit ratio. Therein, the Functional Land Management framework can support the development of policies that are more tailored to contrasting biophysical environments and are therefore more effective than ‘blanket approaches’ allowing more specific and effective prioritisation of contrasting soil functions.
    • Future global pig production systems according to the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways

      Lassaletta, Luis; Estellés, Fernando; Beusen, Arthur; Bouwman, Lex; Calvet, Salvador; van Grinsven, Hans J.M.; Doelman, Jonathan; Stehfest, Elke; Uwizeye, Aimable; Westhoek, Henk; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-02-08)
      Global pork production has increased fourfold over the last 50 years and is expected to continue growing during the next three decades. This may have considerable implications for feed use, land requirements, and nitrogen emissions. To analyze the development of the pig production sector at the scale of world regions, we developed the IMAGE-Pig model to describe changes in feed demand, feed conversion ratios (FCRs), nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and nitrogen excretion for backyard, intermediate and intensive systems during the past few decades as a basis to explore future scenarios. For each region and production system, total production, productive characteristics and dietary compositions were defined for the 1970–2005 period. The results show that due to the growing pork production total feed demand has increased by a factor of two (from 229 to 471Tg DM). This is despite the improvement of FCRs during the 1970–2005 period, which has reduced the feed use per kg of product. The increase of nitrogen use efficiency was slower than the improvement of FCRs due to increasing protein content in the feed rations. As a result, total N excretion increased by more than a factor of two in the 1970–2005 period (from 4.6 to 11.1 Tg N/year). For the period up to 2050, the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) provide information on levels of human consumption, technical development and environmental awareness. The sustainability of pig production systems for the coming decades will be based not only on the expected efficiency improvements at the level of animal breeds, but also on four additional pillars: (i) use of alternative feed sources not competing with human food, (ii) reduction of the crude protein content in rations, (iii) the proper use of slurries as fertilizers through coupling of crop and livestock production and (iv) moderation of the human pork consumption.
    • Gain in Nitrogen Yield from Grass-Legume Mixtures is Robust Over a Wide Range of Legume Proportions and Environmental Conditions

      Suter, Matthias; Finn, John; Connolly, John; Loges, Ralph; Lüscher, Andreas (Elsevier BV, 2015-08-19)
      Global food security is currently challenged and requires sustainable intensification of agriculture through initiatives that include more efficient use of nitrogen (N) and increased protein self-sufficiency through home-grown crops. Such challenges were addressed in a continental-scale field experiment conducted over three years, in which the amount of total nitrogen yield (Ntot) and the gain in N yield in mixtures as compared to grass monocultures (Ngainmix) was quantified from four-species grass-legume stands with greatly varying legume proportions. Stands consisted of monocultures and mixtures of two N2 fixing legumes and two non-fixing grasses. The amount of Ntot of mixtures was significantly greater (P ≤ 0.05) than that of grass monocultures at the majority of evaluated sites in all three years. Ntot and thus Ngainmix increased with increasing legume proportion up to one third of legumes. With higher percentages of legumes, Ntot and Ngainmix did not further increase. Thus, across sites and years, mixtures with one third proportion of legumes had 57% higher Ntot than grass monocultures and attained ∼95% of the maximum Ntot acquired by any stand. The relative N gain in mixture (Ngainmix/Ntotmix) was most severely impaired by minimum site temperature (R = 0.64, P = 0.010). Nevertheless, Ngainmix/Ntotmix was not correlated to site productivity (P = 0.500), suggesting that, within climatic restrictions, balanced grass-legume mixtures can benefit from comparable relative gains in N yield across largely differing productivity levels. We conclude that higher N output (Ntot or forage protein per unit area) can be achieved with grass-legume mixtures than with pure grass alone for a given amount of N fertilizer applied; conversely, the same N output can be achieved by mixed swards with less input of N. Therefore, the use of grass-legume mixtures can substantially contribute to resource-efficient agricultural grassland systems over a wide range of productivity levels, implying important savings in N fertilizers and greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Groundwater nitrate reduction versus dissolved gas production: A tale of two catchments

      McAleer, E.B.; Coxon, C.E.; Richards, Karl G.; Jahangir, M.M.R; Grant, J.; Mellander, Per-Erik; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier BV, 2017-05-15)
      At the catchment scale, a complex mosaic of environmental, hydrogeological and physicochemical characteristics combine to regulate the distribution of groundwater and stream nitrate (NO3 −). The efficiency of NO3 − removal (via denitrification) versus the ratio of accumulated reaction products, dinitrogen (excess N2) & nitrous oxide (N2O), remains poorly understood. Groundwater was investigated in two well drained agricultural catchments (10 km2 ) in Ireland with contrasting subsurface lithologies (sandstone vs. slate) and landuse. Denitrification capacity was assessed by measuring concentration and distribution patterns of nitrogen (N) species, aquifer hydrogeochemistry, stable isotope signatures and aquifer hydraulic properties. A hierarchy of scale whereby physical factors including agronomy, water table elevation and permeability determined the hydrogeochemical signature of the aquifers was observed. This hydrogeochemical signature acted as the dominant control on denitrification reaction progress. High permeability, aerobic conditions and a lack of bacterial energy sources in the slate catchment resulted in low denitrification reaction progress (0–32%), high NO3 − and comparatively low N2O emission factors (EF5g1). In the sandstone catchment denitrification progress ranged from 4 to 94% and was highly dependent on permeability, water table elevation, dissolved oxygen concentration solid phase bacterial energy sources. Denitrification of NO3− to N2 occurred in anaerobic conditions, while at intermediate dissolved oxygen; N2O was the dominant reaction product. EF5g1 (mean: 0.0018) in the denitrifying sandstone catchment was 32% less than the IPCC default. The denitrification observations across catchments were supported by stable isotope signatures. Stream NO3 − occurrence was 32% lower in the sandstone catchment even though N loading was substantially higher than the slate catchment.
    • Implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive in the Republic of Ireland — A view from the farm

      Buckley, Cathal; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Elsevier, 2012-06)
      This paper employs Q methodology to investigate farmer opinions of the operation of the EU Nitrates Directive regulations after the first 4 year National Action Programme phase and explores the level of acceptance and refutation of measures from the view of farmers own knowledge and experience of land stewardship. Results indicate 4 main opinion groups. A “Constrained Productionists”group remain unconvinced about the appropriateness of certain measures from a farm management, environmental and water quality perspective. A second group “Concerned Practitioners” share some of these concerned but are generally more positive regarding other farm management and environmental benefits accruing from the regulations. A third group, “Benefit Accepters”, indicated quite an environmentalist position and are generally very positive towards regulation implementation and associated environmental and farm management benefits. The final group “Regulation Unaffected” have some concerns but are mostly unaffected by the regulations. Results suggest there is a growing acceptance among some farmers of environmental benefits accruing from the regulation but scepticism remains around the validity of certain measures, especially, in the area of temporal farm practices.
    • Improving Public Access to the Irish Countryside for Walking – Investigation of Supply and Demand Side Factors

      Buckley, Cathal; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (01/07/2009)
      Increased interest and demand for land based recreational amenities has seen the rise of conflict between landowners and recreationalists (particularly walkers) in the Republic of Ireland. A right of access to the countryside for recreation prevalent across other developed nations does not apply. Stakeholders have tabled various proposals to address this situation ranging from a right to roam across the countryside to a compensation payment to landowners for recreational access. Whilst policy makers are aware of the economic opportunities associated with open-air outdoor recreation activities, rational public decision making requires that economic benefits and costs should be clearly identified and valued to justify any policy intervention. To-date no such evaluation has been undertaken. This thesis explores supply and demand side factors that influence public access provision to the Irish countryside for recreational walking. Firstly, contingent valuation was used to measure the willingness to pay of consumers for improved public access and trail improvements on commonage farmland based on two case study sites in the Connemara region. Secondly, a national representative survey was used to explore the attitudes of landowners across the Republic of Ireland to the wider provision of public access for recreational walking on farmland, including the potential opportunity costs to agriculture as well as the level of compensation demanded by landowners. This thesis argues that based on derived welfare estimates there is significant scope for policy interventions to improve public access to the countryside in the Republic of Ireland.
    • Improving the identification of hydrologically sensitive areas using LiDAR DEMs for the delineation and mitigation of critical source areas of diffuse pollution

      Thomas, Ian; Jordan, Philip; Mellander, Per-Erik; Fenton, Owen; Shine, Oliver; O hUallachain, Daire; Creamer, Rachel E.; McDonald, Noeleen T.; Dunlop, Paul; Murphy, Paul N. C.; et al. (Elsevier, 2016-03-12)
      Identifying critical source areas (CSAs) of diffuse pollution in agricultural catchments requires the accurate identification of hydrologically sensitive areas (HSAs) at highest propensity for generating surface runoff and transporting pollutants. A new GIS-based HSA Index is presented that improves the identification of HSAs at the sub-field scale by accounting for microtopographic controls. The Index is based on high resolution LiDAR data and a soil topographic index (STI) and also considers the hydrological disconnection of overland flow via topographic impediment from flow sinks. The HSA Index was applied to four intensive agricultural catchments (~ 7.5–12 km2) with contrasting topography and soil types, and validated using rainfall-quickflow measurements during saturated winter storm events in 2009–2014. Total flow sink volume capacities ranged from 8298 to 59,584 m3 and caused 8.5–24.2% of overland-flow-generating-areas and 16.8–33.4% of catchment areas to become hydrologically disconnected from the open drainage channel network. HSA maps identified ‘breakthrough points’ and ‘delivery points’ along surface runoff pathways as vulnerable points where diffuse pollutants could be transported between fields or delivered to the open drainage network, respectively. Using these as proposed locations for targeting mitigation measures such as riparian buffer strips reduced potential costs compared to blanket implementation within an example agri-environment scheme by 66% and 91% over 1 and 5 years respectively, which included LiDAR DEM acquisition costs. The HSA Index can be used as a hydrologically realistic transport component within a fully evolved sub-field scale CSA model, and can also be used to guide the implementation of ‘treatment-train’ mitigation strategies concurrent with sustainable agricultural intensification.
    • Incidental nutrient transfers: Assessing critical times in agricultural catchments using high-resolution data

      Shore, Mairead; Jordan, Philip; Melland, Alice R.; Mellander, Per-Erik; McDonald, Noeleen T.; Shortle, Ger; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier, 2016-03-22)
      Managing incidental losses associated with liquid slurry applications during closed periods has significant cost and policy implications and the environmental data required to review such a measure are difficult to capture due to storm dependencies. Over four years (2010–2014) in five intensive agricultural catchments, this study used high-resolution total and total reactive phosphorus (TP and TRP), total oxidised nitrogen (TON) and suspended sediment (SS) concentrations with river discharge data to investigate the magnitude and timing of nutrient losses. A large dataset of storm events (defined as 90th percentile discharges), and associated flow-weighted mean (FWM) nutrient concentrations and TP/SS ratios, was used to indicate when losses were indicative of residual or incidental nutrient transfers. The beginning of the slurry closed period was reflective of incidental and residual transfers with high storm FWM P (TP and TRP) concentrations, with some catchments also showing elevated storm TP:SS ratios. This pattern diminished at the end of the closed period in all catchments. Total oxidised N behaved similarly to P during storms in the poorly drained catchments and revealed a long lag time in other catchments. Low storm FWM P concentrations and TP:SS ratios during the weeks following the closed period suggests that nutrients either weren't applied during this time (best times chosen) or that they were applied to less risky areas (best places chosen). For other periods such as late autumn and during wet summers, where storm FWM P concentrations and TP:SS ratios were high, it is recommended that an augmentation of farmer knowledge of soil drainage characteristics with local and detailed current and forecast soil moisture conditions will help to strengthen existing regulatory frameworks to avoid storm driven incidental nutrient transfers.
    • Influence of stormflow and baseflow phosphorus pressures on stream ecology in agricultural catchments

      Shore, Mairead; Murphy, Sinead; Mellander, Per-Erik; Shortle, Ger; Melland, A. R.; Crockford, Lucy; O'Flaherty, Vincent; Williams, Lauren; Morgan, Ger; Jordan, Philip; et al. (Elsevier, 2017-03-09)
      Stormflow and baseflow phosphorus (P) concentrations and loads in rivers may exert different ecological pressures during different seasons. These pressures and subsequent impacts are important to disentangle in order to target and monitor the effectiveness of mitigation measures. This study investigated the influence of stormflow and baseflow P pressures on stream ecology in six contrasting agricultural catchments. A five-year high resolution dataset was used consisting of stream discharge, P chemistry, macroinvertebrate and diatom ecology, supported with microbial source tracking and turbidity data. Total reactive P (TRP) loads delivered during baseflows were low (1–7% of annual loads), but TRP concentrations frequently exceeded the environmental quality standard (EQS) of 0.035 mg L− 1 during these flows (32–100% of the time in five catchments). A pilot microbial source tracking exercise in one catchment indicated that both human and ruminant faecal effluents were contributing to these baseflow P pressures but were diluted at higher flows. Seasonally, TRP concentrations tended to be highest during summer due to these baseflow P pressures and corresponded well with declines in diatom quality during this time (R2 = 0.79). Diatoms tended to recover by late spring when storm P pressures were most prevalent and there was a poor relationship between antecedent TRP concentrations and diatom quality in spring (R2 = 0.23). Seasonal variations were less apparent in the macroinvertebrate indices; however, there was a good relationship between antecedent TRP concentrations and macroinvertebrate quality during spring (R2 = 0.51) and summer (R2 = 0.52). Reducing summer point source discharges may be the quickest way to improve ecological river quality, particularly diatom quality in these and similar catchments. Aligning estimates of P sources with ecological impacts and identifying ecological signals which can be attributed to storm P pressures are important next steps for successful management of agricultural catchments at these scales.
    • Intra-national importation of pig and poultry manure: acceptability under EU Nitrates Directive constraints

      Buckley, Cathal; Fealy, Reamonn; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Institute of Agricultural Management, 2012-07)
      Matching the agronomic limits of manure spread lands from housed animal units is an international concern where receiving lands can become over supplied and lead to water quality problems where eutrophication is a risk. Across the EU, this means establishing policy to export manures to off-farm spread lands under tight regulation. Transitional arrangements across, for example, the Republic of Ireland between 2006-2010 allowed pig and poultry manures to be spread subject only to the nitrogen amendment limits of the EU Nitrates Directive and not the phosphorus limits. From 2013 this arrangement is to be phased out, and pig and poultry producers have consequently expressed concerns about the availability of recipient spread lands for these manures. Using a national farm survey and a multinomial model this paper investigates the willingness of the farming population to import these manures. Results indicate that between 9 and 15 per cent of farmers nationally would be willing to pay to import these manures; a further 17-28 per cent would import if offered on a free of charge basis. Demand is strongest among arable farmers, younger farmer cohorts and those of larger farm size with greater expenditure on chemical fertilisers per hectare and who are not restricted by a Nitrates Directive derogation. The nature of this demand could assist in achieving environmental goals under the EU Nitrates and Water Framework Directives.