• AgriBenchmark: Benchmarking Sustainable Nutrient Management on Irish Farms

      Murphy, Paul N.C.; Thomas, Ian; Buckley, Cathal; Kelly, Edel; Dillon, Emma; Hennessy, Thia; Environmental Protection Agency (2020-10-14)
      AgriBenchmark explored the possibilities for benchmarking of nutrient management performance on Irish farms. Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) data (2008–2015; 1446 farms) were used to characterise and explore the potential for improvement of farm nutrient management performance and resultant aspects of environmental and economic sustainability through the derivation of three key performance indicators (KPIs) at the farm-gate level: farm nutrient balance (kgha–1), nutrient use efficiency (NUE; %) and profitability (gross margin; €ha–1). In this report, the farm nutrient balance is defined as the farm-gate nutrient imports (fertiliser, feed, animals, etc.) minus the exports (animals, crops, wool and milk). A positive balance (surplus) is considered to represent a nutrient source pressure in terms of the risk of nutrient losses to the wider environment. The data and analyses in this report cover the main, more intensive agricultural systems in Ireland (excluding pig and poultry farms) and are representative of, on average, 61% of farms nationally and 76% of the total utilised agriculture area (UAA; excluding commonage).
    • Developing farm-level sustainability indicators for Ireland using the Teagasc National Farm Survey

      Ryan, Mary; Hennessy, Thia; Buckley, Cathal; Dillon, Emma; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Moran, Brian (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
      In the context of an expanding, export-dependent agri-food sector, indicators of sustainable development and intensification are necessary to measure, assess and verify the comparative advantage afforded by Ireland’s natural pastoral-based food production systems. Such indicators are also necessary to ensure that we produce more food with less adverse impacts on the Irish environment, climate and society. This article outlines the development of farm-level indicators that refect the multifaceted nature of sustainability, which is encompassed in economic, environmental and social indicators. The role of innovation in farm sustainability was also examined. A comparison of indicators across Irish farm systems showed that dairy farms, followed by tillage farms, tended to be the most economically and socially sustainable farm systems. In relation to greenhouse gas emissions in particular, the top-performing dairy farms, in an economic sense, also tended to be the best-performing farms from an environmental sustainability perspective. This trend was also evident in relation to the adoption of innovative practices on farm, which was found to be strongly correlated with economic performance.
    • 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.
    • Farm-gate N and P balances and use efficiencies across specialist dairy farms in the Republic Ireland

      Buckley, Cathal; Murphy, Paul N. C.; Wall, David (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2013)
      This study establishes farm gate N and P balances and use efficiencies based on the average of 2 years of Teagasc National Farm Survey data in 2009 and 2010. The weighted average farm gate N surplus for this nationally representative sample of specialist dairy farms was 143.4 kg N ha-1. Average farm gate nitrogen use efficiency was 23.2%. For dairy farms operating under an EU Nitrates Derogation, the average N surplus was higher at 181.8 kg N ha-1 and averageN use efficiency was slightly lower at 22.2%. The total average farm gate P balance was 4.1 kg ha-1 in surplus, and P use efficiency averaged 83.9%. P balance ranged from -7.3 to 23.0 kg ha-1. A total of 27% had a negative P balance. The average P surplus for farms with a Nitrates Derogation was below the average of all farms at 3.5 kg P ha-1 and average P use efficiency for these Derogation farms was above the average of all farms at 90%.
    • 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.
    • Modelling the Marginal Abatement Cost of Mitigating Nitrogen Loss from Agricultural Land

      Chyzheuskaya, Aksana; O'Donoghue, Cathal; Buckley, Cathal; Ryan, Mary; green, stuart; Gibson, Mark (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2012)
      With the deadline identified by the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) approaching in 2015 there is increasing pressure on policymakers to introduce new regulations to achieve water quality targets. Agriculture is one of the contributors of diffuse pollution entering watercourses and will come under pressure to reduce pollutant loads. This paper produces Marginal Abatement Cost (MAC) Curves for eight policy measures that could potentially reduce nitrate leaching from agricultural land on Irish dairy farms. These include: 1) reduction of fertiliser application by 10%; 2) reduction of fertiliser application by 20%; 3) livestock unit reduction to limit organic N to 170 kg ha-1; 4) reduction of livestock units by 20%; 5) change of feed mix to reduce cow dietary N intake; 6) fencing off watercourses to introduce a buffer zone; 7) improved dairy cow genetic merit by introducing higher performing dairy breeds; 8) more efficient slurry application. Results from this study indicate that there will be reductions in farm gross margins across nearly all policy measures. However, MAC and the ranking of MAC vary across individual farms and aggregate MAC does not reflect the heterogeneity of impacts across individual farms. This paper shows that any measure introduced in a “one size fits all command-control” fashion will not yield efficient economic results.
    • Phosphorus management on Irish dairy farms post controls introduced under the EU Nitrates Directive

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

      Buckley, Cathal; Hynes, Stephen; van Rensburg, Tom M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (School of Biology and Environmental Science at University College Dublin in association with Teagasc, 30/06/2008)
      Public access to the Irish countryside for walking and recreation generally is a contentious issue. Increased affluence, mobility and changing values have brought about increased demands with respect to recreation in the countryside. There is also a greater emphasis on consumption demands for goods and services in rural areas. However, provision of a walking product has not been without problems in Ireland. This paper focuses on how public access provision for recreational walking might be enhanced by exploring the situation and precedent in a cross section of European and other developed nations and by examining the concerns of landowners especially with regard to public liability. Supply side factors affecting public access provision are examined in an economic context and a discussion is offered on how the supply might be improved. In the absence of compulsion through legislation, which seems unlikely in an Irish context, this paper contends that the supply of public access is dependent on factors such as cost of provision, potential monetary incentives and landowner preferences. Finally, a change to the Occupiers Liability Act to a definitive enter at your own risk situation would help dissipate liability concerns.
    • Public access to the countryside: An exploration of the costs and benefits of farmland walking trails

      Howley, Peter; Doherty, Edel; Buckley, Cathal; Hynes, Stephen; van Rensburg, Tom M.; green, stuart; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      To date, estimates of individuals’ willingness to pay (WTP) for access to the countryside have typically been on sites of special interest such as developed walking routes, public rights of way in specific areas, national parks and forests (see Lockwood and Tracy, 1995; Bennett and Tranter, 1997; Crabtree and MacDonald, 1997; Liston-Heyes and Heyes, 1999; Garrod et al., 1998; Bennett et al., 2003; Buckley et al., 2009; Morris et al., 2009). There has been little if any attempt to derive estimates of individuals’ WTP for the provision of walking trails in the wider countryside at a national level. The present study aims to build on previous work by examining the demand for particular types of walking trails through a nationally representative survey of the Irish population. One further advantage of this research is that apart from valuing walking activities in a generic sense this paper investigates what types of investment in facilities associated with walking trails generate the greatest welfare gains. Furthermore, using a nationally representative survey of the farming population this paper examines farmers’ willingness to participate in a hypothetical walking scheme whereby the general public will be allowed access to specific trails. First by way of background this paper will discuss the situation in relation to access rights to the countryside across a number of countries. Second this paper will outline the research approach which is followed with a discussion of the empirical results. Finally this paper will conclude with a discussion of the papers main findings and their implications for the provision of public access to the countryside.
    • Recreational demand for farm commonage in Ireland: A contingent valuation assessment

      Buckley, Cathal; van Rensburg, Tom M.; Hynes, Stephen; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Elsevier Inc., 2009-07)
      This paper measures willingness to pay (WTP) for public access and trail improvements on commonage farmland for recreational walking in upland and lowland areas of Connemara region in the West of Ireland using the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM). Common to both upland and lowland commonage sites was the much higher ranking for infrastructural features by those WTP for scenario implementation compared to those preferring the status quo. Results for those expressing a positive WTP reveal a median willingness to pay (MWTP) for formal access with improved trail infrastructure of €12.22 for the lowlands compared with €9.08 for the uplands.
    • Supply of an ecosystem service—Farmers’ willingness to adopt riparian buffer zones in agricultural catchments

      Buckley, Cathal; Hynes, Stephen; Mechan, Sarah; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Elsevier, 2012-12)
      In the European Union, mitigation measures to abate diffuse pollution from agricultural land are implemented under the direction of the EU Nitrates and Water Framework Directives. As these measures are implemented in national policies, a review process will look at the efficacy of the measures with a view to recommending further measures as necessary and following scientific and stakeholder consultation. Riparian buffer zones, beyond those zones used as mandatory set back distances for fertiliser and organic manure spreading, have been used as filters in some countries to attenuate nutrient rich runoff and may be proposed as supplementary measures elsewhere. Notwithstanding the ongoing research on the physio-chemical efficiency of riparian buffer zones, this study examined the willingness of farmers to adopt such features on agricultural land. The sample size was 247 farmers in 12 catchments (approximately 4-12km2) in the Republic of Ireland. The survey was based on a proposal to install a 10 metre deep riparian buffer zone on a five year scheme and the analysis was based on principal components analysis, contingent valuation methodology and a Generalized Tobit Interval model. Results from this analysis indicated that famers’ willingness to supply a riparian buffer zone depended on a mix of economic, attitudinal and farm structural factors. A total of 53% of the sample indicated a negative preference for provision. Principle constraints to adoption include interference with production, nuisance effects and loss of production in small field systems. Of those willing to engage with supply, the mean willingness to accept based cost of provision for a 10 metre riparian buffer zone was estimated to be €1513 ha-1 per annum equivalent to €1.51 per linear metre of riparian area.
    • The Sustainable Intensification of the Irish Dairy Sector

      Dillon, Emma Jane; Hennessy, Thia; Buckley, Cathal; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Moran, Brian; Ryan, Mary (Annual Conference of the Agricultural Economics Society, 2014)
      The concept of sustainability is one of the forefront issues in global agricultural production at present, given mounting pressure to increase food production in both a socially responsible and environmentally friendly way. From an Irish perspective the sustainable intensification of agriculture is of particular relevance given ambitious targets to increase milk production by 50 percent by 2020, in the context of European milk quota removal. Alongside this, environmental targets may be specified, meaning that expansion would have to be achieved in a sustainable way. To evaluate dairy farm-level sustainability a series of indicators are developed here using Teagasc National Farm Survey FADN (Farm Accountancy Data Network) data for Ireland from 2012. Three dimensions, reflecting the multifaceted nature of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) are considered. Given the environmental challenges inherent in the sustainable intensification of agriculture, it is encouraging to observe that the more intensive, top performing farms (in an economic sense) emit relatively less greenhouse gases when compared to their less intensive counterparts. Conversely, the better performing farms in economic terms tend to have higher nitrogen surplus per hectare on average. This is consistent with their higher rates of production intensity but poses a challenge in terms of sustainable expansion. That said this analysis demonstrates that the nitrogen use efficiency of milk production is positively correlated with economic performance, with more intensive farms producing relatively more milk per kg of nitrogen surplus. From a social perspective demography also tends to be correlated with economic performance. These indicators allow for the continued assessment of the sustainability status of Irish farming.
    • Walking in the Irish countryside – Landowner preferences and attitudes to improved public access provision

      Buckley, Cathal; Hynes, Stephen; van Rensburg, Tom M.; Doherty, Edel; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Taylor & Francis, 18/11/2009)
      This paper explores the attitudes of landowners across Ireland to the wider provision of public access for recreational walking using a multinomial logit model. The study also investigates the level of compensation required to improve the supply of this public good. Results indicate that 51% of landowners are not willing to provide access (non providers), 21% are willing to provide access free of charge (free providers) and 28% seek compensation (willing providers). Our findings indicate that participation by landowners in a proposed public access scheme is influenced by landowners’ experience with walkers, farm type, farm insurance costs, household demographics, regional variations, opportunity cost of land and participation in other agri-environment schemes. Mean willingness to accept for landowners willing to facilitate improved public access for walking was found to be €0.27 per metre of walkway.
    • What are the financial returns to agriculture from a common property resource? A case study of Irish commonage

      Buckley, Cathal; van Rensburg, Tom M.; Hynes, Stephen; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Institute of Agricultural Management, 2008-07)
      Commonage in the Republic of Ireland has traditionally been used for agricultural activity, mainly livestock grazing. In recent times due to its prevailing common property characteristics and upland landscape, this resource is increasingly attracting the interest of recreational enthusiasts. However, the potential opportunity costs associated with recreation – namely the commercial value of sheep and cattle grazing on commonage remains to be investigated. This paper aims to fill this gap in the literature by analysing the agricultural returns from livestock rearing enterprises on commonage land for a sample of farmers in the west of Ireland. Results indicate that stocking rates are three times higher on privately owned land compared to shared commonage. Over 80 per cent of the farms in the sample had a gross margin under €20,000. In total, 96 per cent of gross margin was found to be attributable to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments; with area based payments twice as important as direct livestock subsidies.
    • Willingness to Pay For Achieving Good Status Across Rivers in the Republic of Ireland

      Buckley, Cathal; Howley, Peter; O'Donoghue, Cathal; Kilgarriff, Paul; Environmental Protection Agency (The Economic and Social Review, 2016-09-26)
      The Water Framework Directive mandates EU Member States to achieve good status across all surface waters. Derogations from this have to be proven based on infeasibility or disproportionate cost. This study explores public preference for water quality objectives and assesses willingness to pay (WTP) for achieving good status across all rivers in the Republic of Ireland using contingent valuation. Mean WTP for achieving full good status across rivers was estimated at €19 per respondent per annum. WTP was influenced by social class, subjective perceptions relating to household financial status, education, recreational use, environmental values and river basin district.