Spatial analysis research, comprising Geographic Information Systems (GIS), earth observing (EO) and remote sensing (RS)technologies, provides a powerful platform for the comprehensive analysis of all land–based activities at the interface between the agri-food sector, economy and the environment. A key strength of GIS/EO is the potential for integrated analysis across all scales from the field to farm right up to national level. Spatial analysis seeks to equip stakeholders with the knowledge to achieve high farm output and excellent agri-environmental quality while providing evidence-based knowledge to support policymakers in designing, implementing and evaluating programmes.

Recent Submissions

  • The role of extension and forest characteristics in understanding the management decisions of new forest owners in Ireland

    Upton, Vincent; Ryan, Mary; Heanue, Kevin; Ni Dhubhain, Aine (Elsevier, 2017-10-14)
    Many European countries have seen significant changes in forest ownership structure, with the emergence of a cohort commonly referred to as new forest owners, mainly within the non-industrial, private forest (NIPF) owner group. The drivers of this change differ between countries but these owners frequently lack an existing knowledge base to draw on regarding forest management decisions and practices and may possess different objectives to traditional owners. As a result there is uncertainty concerning the management intentions of these owners. The provision of extension services is a recognised approach to supporting decision-making by NIPF owners but there have been relatively few studies that have sought to quantify the effectiveness of such initiatives in terms of management outcomes. In addition to measuring the outcome of extension initiatives, exploring the positive or negative outcomes can assist with the design of future initiatives. Ensuring that such initiatives are designed for appropriate phases in the forest life-cycle is important. This paper reports the results from a number of surveys that sought to explore the impact of an extension initiative, a thinning demonstration, on actual management outcomes and what characteristics of owners and their forests might explain observed management decisions. A retrospective pre-post test questionnaire was used at the demonstration to capture knowledge impacts and management intentions. A follow up survey was conducted 18 months later to investigate what, if any, practices had been undertaken. Data from a national household survey of land owners were also analysed to investigate whether the observations from the demonstration had significance for the wider population. The results suggest that the demonstration was successful in imparting knowledge to forest owners both in terms of self-reported learning and actual management outcomes. However, from an Irish perspective management decisions are dominated by forest age as the majority of the private estate is still in its first rotation. This presents a challenge to extension service personnel and to research seeking to explain management practices at a national level.
  • Distribution and extent of High Nature Value farmland in the Republic of Ireland (tetrad scale)

    Matin, Shafique; Sullivan, C. A.; Finn, John A.; O hUallachain, Daire; Green, Stuart; Meredith, David; Moran, James (2019-05-06)
    High Nature Value (HNV) farmland is extensively managed farmland that has high biodiversity. This farmland is important for the conservation of semi-natural habitats and the plants and animals linked with them. Supporting this type of farmland will ensure high levels of farmland biodiversity, vibrant rural communities, high water, air and soil quality and resistance to flooding among other things. To map the likely distribution of HNV farmland in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) we used five indicators adapted for the Irish context and weighted based on expert knowledge and literature. The indicators used are: semi-natural habitat cover (CORINE land cover), stocking density (Land parcel information system), hedgerow/scrub cover (Teagasc), river and stream density (OSI), and soil diversity (Teagasc). Indicator data sets were included in a weighted sum model that combined raster indicator inputs, representing relative weights and the output HNV farmland had a tetrad-scale (2 km × 2 km) spatial resolution.
  • Predicted distribution of High Nature Value farmland in the Republic of Ireland

    Matin, Shafique; Sullivan, C. A.; O hUallachain, Daire; Meredith, David; Moran, James; Finn, John A.; Green, Stuart; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/108 (Taylor & Francis, 2016-08-31)
    High Nature Value (HNV) farmland is typically characterised by low-intensity farming associated with high biodiversity and species of conservation concern. Mapping the occurrence and distribution of such farmland are useful for appropriate targeting of conservation measures and supporting associated rural communities. We mapped the likely distribution of HNV farmland in the Republic of Ireland using a linear regression model incorporating established European indicators, adapted for Ireland and weightings based on expert opinion. The indicators used were semi-natural habitat cover, stocking density, hedgerow density, river and stream density and soil diversity, with highest weightings placed on the first two indicators (40% and 30%, respectively). The map provides information on the likely occurrence and distribution of HNV farmland in each electoral division as a reference point for future monitoring of the distribution of HNV farmland in the Republic of Ireland in order to assist with planning and policy development for the rural environment.
  • Assessment of water-limited winter wheat yield potential at spatially contrasting sites in Ireland using a simple growth and development model

    Lynch, J.P.; Fealy, Reamonn; Doyle, D.; Black, L.; Spink, John; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 19/09/2017)
    Although Irish winter wheat yields are among the highest globally, increases in the profitability of this crop are required to maintain its economic viability. However, in order to determine if efforts to further increase Irish wheat yields are likely to be successful, an accurate estimation of the yield potential is required for different regions within Ireland. A winter wheat yield potential model (WWYPM) was developed, which estimates the maximum water-limited yield achievable, within the confines of current genetic resources and technologies, using parameters for winter wheat growth and development observed recently in Ireland and a minor amount of daily meteorological input (maximum and minimum daily temperature, total daily rainfall and total daily incident radiation). The WWYPM is composed of three processes: (i) an estimation of potential green area index, (ii) an estimation of light interception and biomass accumulation and (iii) an estimation of biomass partitioning to grain yield. Model validation indicated that WWYPM estimations of water-limited yield potential (YPw) were significantly related to maximum yields recorded in variety evaluation trials as well as regional average and maximum farm yields, reflecting the model’s sensitivity to alterations in the climatic environment with spatial and seasonal variations. Simulations of YPw for long-term average weather data at 12 sites located at spatially contrasting regions of Ireland indicated that the typical YPw varied between 15.6 and 17.9 t/ha, with a mean of 16.7 t/ha at 15% moisture content. These results indicate that the majority of sites in Ireland have the potential to grow high-yielding crops of winter wheat when the effects of very high rainfall and other stresses such as disease incidence and nutrient deficits are not considered.
  • Digital Soil Mapping in the Irish Soil Information System

    Corstanje, R.; Mayr, T.; Fealy, Reamonn; Zawadzka, Joanna; Lopapa, G.; Creamer, Rachel E.; Schulte, Rogier P.; Environmental Protection Agency (International Union of Soil Sciences, 2009-12)
    Harmonised soil data across Europe with a 1:250 000 geo-referenced soil database will allow for exchange of data across member states and the provide the information needed by the European Commission and European Environment Agency for reporting on issues relating to soil quality under a fu-ture Soil Framework Directive. Within this context, the Environmental Protection Agency of the Republic of Ireland commissioned a project run by Teagasc to produce a 1:250 000 soil map of the Republic of Ire-land. Delivery of this map and associated database is a collaborative effort between Teagasc, the National Soil Resources Institute at Cranfield in the UK and University College Dublin.
  • Mapping Soils in Ireland

    Simo, Iolanda; Constanje, R.; Fealy, Reamonn; Hallett, S.; Hannam, Jacqueline; Holden, Nicholas M.; Jahns, G.; Jones, B.; Massey, P.; Mayr, T.; et al. (CRC Press, 2014)
    Harmonised soil data across Europe with a 1:250 000 geo-referenced soil database will allow for exchange of data across member states and the provide the information needed for reporting on issues re-lating to soil quality under a future Soil Framework Directive. The current status of soils data available in Eu-rope is inconsistent at best. The Irish Soil Information System (ISIS) project is currently developing a national soil map of 1:250,000 and an associated digital soil information system, providing both spatial and quantita-tive information on soil types and properties across Ireland. Both the map and the information system will be freely available to the public through a designated website.
  • Gender Relations and Women’s Off-farm Employment: a critical analysis of discourses

    Hanrahan, Sheena (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
    This project addresses gender relations on dairy farms in Irish Republic. Its aim was to explore the way women who are married to farmers but who are employed in paid employment off the farm are constructed in agricultural policy discourse. It was proposed that discourses encapsulate the values and interests of powerful actors and are constitutive in their effect. Hence they are implicated in women’s experience of life within a ‘farm family’. Following on from this it may be said that women’ s continued subordination in Irish farming or indeed their chances of achieving equal status are circumscribed by dominant discourses.
  • A spatial analysis of agriculture in the Republic of Ireland, 1991 to 2000

    Crowley, Caroline; Meredith, David; Walsh, Jim A. (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
    By linking farm census and administrative data from the CSO and DAF to a geographic information system and analysing the mapping output, this project shows the continued broad division of farming in the state into marginal farming areas in the north and west and more commercial farming areas in the south and east. While this division was compounded by the 1992 CAP reforms, and commercial farming became more spatially concentrated over the 1990s, the influence of the development in the non-farm economy, particularly in peri-urban rural areas across the state, provided local drivers of change that encouraged enterprise substitution to beef production, the farming system most readily combined by farm holders with another job. A full report on the mapping output will be produced in a forthcoming publication (see publications list).
  • Contested Ruralities: Housing in the Irish Countryside

    Pitts, Eamonn; Meredith, David; Duffy, Patrick J.; Walsh, Jim; Keaveney, Karen; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
    The purpose of the study is to examine housing in the Irish countryside. Housing in the countryside has become an increasingly contested issue in Ireland due to processes of rural change. The realm of debate is around issues such as who has the right to live in the countryside and how traditional settlement patterns can be sustained into the future. The debate, which has many contributors from politics, media and interest groups, has suffered from a lack of large-scale empirical research. The release of a combination of data from the 2002 Census of Population (house type with type sewerage facility used) has allowed this research to establish the spatial extent of single rural dwellings, the most contested and least known about element of living in the Irish countryside. Using this data in conjunction with the study of local level housing processes, a greater understanding of rural housing in Ireland has been established.
  • Digital Soil Information System for Ireland – Scoping Study

    Daly, Karen M.; Fealy, Reamonn; Environmental Protection Agency (Environmental Protection Agency, 01/09/2007)
    Soil is our life support system, crucial for the production of food and biomass and critical for the sustainability of an agro–environmental economy. The authors suggest that it is axiomatic that Ireland should have ready access to its soil information through the benefits of modern information technology. Soil is a multifunctional and complex natural medium that provides ecosystem services such as the production of food, fibre and fuel, the provision of habitat, nutrient cycling, contaminant transformation, water cycling and climate regulation. Reports from the European Commission indicate that many of these functions and services are under threat and soil protection is now placed on the same level as that of water and air.
  • Development of a Strategic Approach for a Single EU Beef Market. Extensification. An Analysis of National and Competitive Issues

    Dunne, Liam; Shanahan, Ultan; O'Connell, John J. (Teagasc, 31/12/2008)
    The economic merits of the two Options for extensification under Agenda 2000 were evaluated in relation to their ability to generate revenue and their impact on the competitiveness of Irish cattle farming.
  • Diversifying Marine-Based Employment Opportunities in Peripheral Communities

    Heanue, Kevin; European Commission (Teagasc, 01/01/2009)
    This project was a development project connected to an INTERREG sub-programme called the Northern Periphery Programme (NPP). More specifically, this project was funded as an NPP Preparatory Project. The aim of such NPP Preparatory Projects is to facilitate the development of a transnational consortium that may produce an application to the NPP for a main project. Such a main project application will not directly ensue from this Preparatory Project, although it may do so in the future. Nevertheless, there are tangible immediate returns to Teagasc from this Preparatory Project that include 1) the opportunity, if considered appropriate, for Teagasc to join an existing NPP main project in 2011 that promotes a new mechanism to support rural enterprise such as food and tourism in the form of the Economusuem® concept and 2) the establishment of new international and national academic and agency contacts working in the area of local development.
  • Consideration of landscape in the framework documentation during the evolution of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) in the Republic of Ireland.

    Whelan, Jackie; Fry, John; Green, Stuart; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
    This paper looks at the changing concept of landscape during the evolution of REPS. It reviews and groups definitions of landscape and identifies their agri-environmental relevance. Descriptions were devised to amplify each grouping with reference to an Irish context and were used as an analytical framework to categorise each landscape reference in REPS documentation. There was an increase in the use of the term landscape with each version of the scheme and expansion in the range of different landscape categories to which this apparently applied. However there has been no coherence in its use. This paper makes recommendations to improve the framework for the treatment of landscape issues in REPS and its future evolution.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Modelling the Gross Cost of Transporting Pig Slurry to Tillage Spread Lands in a Post Transition Arrangement within the Nitrates Directive.

    Fealy, Reamonn; O'Donoghue, Cathal; Hanrahan, Kevin; Martin, Michael; Schulte, Rogier P. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2012)
    The context of this paper is in the phasing out of the transitional arrangement under the Nitrates Directive. As there is relatively little grassland capable of taking significant amounts of pig slurry available in the vicinity of the main pig production areas, in this paper we attempt to quantify the cost of transporting this slurry to the nearest available tillage land. The approach taken was to examine the geographic structure underlying the pig sector in Ireland using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. The study highlighted the differential cost with, amounting to 10% of gross margin on average and as high in major pig producing areas as 21.5% in Longford and 16.6% in Cavan, while lower at 7-9% in South Tipperary and Cork. Thus while the problem is significant, the impact is not constant across the country, highlighting the value of a spatial analytical approach. Future work should assess the existing cost of spreading manure in order to be able to ascertain the net cost of spreading on tillage lands. The robustness of the results also need to be tested to assess the implications of changes in the prices of fossil fuels and fertilisers, both in terms of the cost function and in terms of the cost of substitutable mineral fertiliser
  • The spatial variation in degree days derived from locational attributes for the 1961 to 1990 period

    Fealy, Reamonn; Fealy, Reamonn; Environmental Protection Agency (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
    The relationship between degree days and locational attributes for a selection of sites in Ireland were examined in order to objectively extrapolate values for unmeasured locations. While a number of previous researchers have employed similar methodologies in order to map the geographical variation for selected degree-day thresholds, the authors seek to expand on this existing research through the inclusion of a denser network of stations and for a longer time period (1961 to 1990). Degree days were calculated on a daily basis for three selected threshold temperatures, 0 oC, 5 oC, 10 oC, in order to provide a more accurate assessment of the accumulated monthly energy available at each station. The geographical distribution of degree days was then mapped employing a stepwise linear regression which related locational parameters for each station to the calculated monthly accumulations. While none of the selected thresholds are specific to any plant or insect species they are indicative of the likely spatial variation in degree days due to location and elevation. It is intended that the derived spatial distributions will be useful in providing a basis for assessing likely changes in the thermal regime arising as a consequence of climate change over the course of the present century with the associated potential impact on spatial location of arable cropping in Ireland.
  • The Irish Forest Soils Project and its Potential Contribution to the Assessment of Biodiversity

    Loftus, M; Bulfin, Michael; Farrelly, Niall; Fealy, Reamonn; Green, Stuart; Meehan, R; Radford, Toddy; National Development Plan; European Commission (Royal Irish Academy, 2002)
    The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has proposed methods and thematic areas for data collection that are appropriate to the evaluation of biodiversity. The Heritage Council has identified a paucity of data on habitats in Ireland. Within this context, we outline the Irish Forest Soils (IFS) element of the Forest Inventory and Planning System (FIPS) and present a detailed account of land-cover mapping, which is an important aspect of the project. The IFS project aims to produce a national thematic map of land cover using soft-copy photogrammetry, combined with satellite-image classification and field survey. This aspect of the IFS project generates data on land cover at different spatial and classification resolutions. We report on the progress made to date and present illustrative examples of the data sets. The UNEP proposals provide a useful framework within which to discuss the potential contribution of IFS data to the assessment of biodiversity.
  • Population Estimation and Trappability of the European Badger (Meles meles): Implications for Tuberculosis Management.

    Byrne, Andrew W.; O'Keeffe, James; Green, Stuart; Sleeman, D. Paddy; Corner, Leigh A. L.; Gormley, Eamonn; Murphy, Denise; Martin, S. Wayne; Davenport, John; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; et al. (PLOS, 05/11/2012)
    Estimates of population size and trappability inform vaccine efficacy modelling and are required for adaptive management during prolonged wildlife vaccination campaigns. We present an analysis of mark-recapture data from a badger vaccine (Bacille Calmette–Gue´ rin) study in Ireland. This study is the largest scale (755 km2) mark-recapture study ever undertaken with this species. The study area was divided into three approximately equal–sized zones, each with similar survey and capture effort. A mean badger population size of 671 (SD: 76) was estimated using a closed-subpopulation model (CSpM) based on data from capturing sessions of the entire area and was consistent with a separate multiplicative model. Minimum number alive estimates calculated from the same data were on average 49–51% smaller than the CSpM estimates, but these are considered severely negatively biased when trappability is low. Population densities derived from the CSpM estimates were 0.82–1.06 badgers km22, and broadly consistent with previous reports for an adjacent area. Mean trappability was estimated to be 34–35% per session across the population. By the fifth capture session, 79% of the adult badgers caught had been marked previously. Multivariable modelling suggested significant differences in badger trappability depending on zone, season and age-class. There were more putatively trap-wary badgers identified in the population than trap-happy badgers, but wariness was not related to individual’s sex, zone or season of capture. Live-trapping efficacy can vary significantly amongst sites, seasons, age, or personality, hence monitoring of trappability is recommended as part of an adaptive management regime during large–scale wildlife vaccination programs to counter biases and to improve efficiencies.
  • Teagasc-EPA Soils and Subsoils mapping project: Final report V.1

    Fealy, Reamonn; Green, Stuart; Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Environmental Protection Agency; National Development Plan (Teagasc; Environmental Protection Agency, 01/01/2009)
    Subsoils Map: Teagasc has created the first national subsoils map to a standardised methodology; The Teagasc Subsoils map classifies the subsoils of Ireland into 16 themes, using digital stereo photogrammetry supported by field work; The subsoils map has a nominal working scale of 1:50,000; The subsoils maps for each county are now freely available to all researchers. Landcover Map: Teagasc has created the first and only national landcover map for an Irish project; The Teagasc Landcover 1995 (TLC95) map classifies the landcover of Ireland into 16 themes; It maps to a minimum size of 1 Ha; Landcover maps for each county are now freely available to all researchers. Indicative Soils Map: Teagasc has developed a national indicative soils map to a standardised methodology; The indicative soils map classifies the soils of Ireland on a categorically simplified but cartographically detailed basis into 25 classes, using an expert rule based methodology; The soils map has a nominal working scale of 1:100,000-1:150,000; The soils maps for each county are now freely available to all researchers. Habitat Indicator Map: Teagasc has created the only national habitat map for an Irish project; The Teagasc Habitat Indicator Map 1995 (THIM95) map classifies Ireland into 27 habitat themes; It maps to a minimum size of 1 Ha; Habitat maps for each county are now freely available to all researchers.

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