• Functional land management: A framework for managing soil-based ecosystem services for the sustainable intensification of agriculture

      Schulte, Rogier P.; Creamer, Rachel; Donnellan, Trevor; Farrelly, Niall; Fealy, Reamonn; O’Donoghue, Cathal; O’hUallachain, Daire (Elsevier, 2013-11-20)
      Sustainable food production has re-emerged at the top of the global policy agenda, driven by two challenges: (1) the challenge to produce enough food to feed a growing world population and (2) the challenge to make more efficient and prudent use of the world's natural resources. These challenges have led to a societal expectation that the agricultural sector increase productivity, and at the same time provide environmental ‘ecosystem services’ such as the provision of clean water, air, habitats for biodiversity, recycling of nutrients and mitigation against climate change. Whilst the degree to which agriculture can provide individual ecosystem services has been well researched, it is unclear how and to what extent agriculture can meet all expectations relating to environmental sustainability simultaneously, whilst increasing the quantity of food outputs. In this paper, we present a conceptual framework for the quantification of the ‘supply of’ and ‘demand for’ agricultural, soil-based ecosystem services or ‘soil functions’. We use Irish agriculture as a case-study for this framework, using proxy-indicators to determine the demand for individual soil functions, as set by agri-environmental policies, as well as the supply of soil functions, as defined by land use and soil type. We subsequently discuss how this functionality of soils can be managed or incentivised through policy measures, with a view to minimising the divergence between agronomic policies designed to promote increased agricultural production and environmental policy objectives. Finally, we discuss the applicability of this conceptual framework to agriculture and agri-environmental policies at EU level, and the implications for policy makers.
    • The Potential Economic Returns of Converting Agricultural Land to Forestry: An Analysis of System and Soil Effects from 1995 to 2009

      Upton, Vincent; Ryan, Mary; Farrelly, Niall; O'Donoghue, Cathal; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Society of Irish Foresters, 05/07/2013)
      Private land owners have been responsible for the majority of annual afforestation in Ireland since the mid1990s, but planting rates have generally been declining since 2002. Although the decision to plant may be driven by a number of factors, the profitability of forestry as a landuse option should be an important driver and offer some insight into trends in afforestation rates. As farmers undertake most afforestation in Ireland it is important to account for the opportunity cost of lost agricultural income when analysing the financial outcome of planting. In addition, soil quality plays an essential role in dictating the productivity and profitability of both agriculture and forestry. This study examines the effects of soil quality and superseded agricultural system on the potential profitability of afforestation by farmers between 1995 and 2009. Data from the National Farm Survey were employed to identify the annual gross margins for six agricultural systems on six soil types that differ in terms of quality. The measures of soil quality were translated into potential yield classes for forestry using an existing productivity model and Teagasc’s Forest Investment and Valuation Estimator was employed to calculate the net present value of afforestation for each of the systems and soil types. The results demonstrate how the competitiveness of forestry as a landuse option is influenced by soil quality and superseded enterprise and how forestry has become more competitive with agricultural enterprises over the period of analysis.
    • A Response to the Draft National Mitigation Plan. Teagasc submission to the Department of Communications, Climate Action & theEnvironment

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