• Assessing the role of artificially drained agricultural land for climate change mitigation in Ireland

      Paul, Carsten; Fealy, Reamonn; Fenton, Owen; Lanigan, Gary; O'Sullivan, Lilian; Schulte, Rogier P.; Irish Dairy Research Fund; Teagasc Greenhouse Gas Working Group; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier, 2017-12-19)
      In 2014 temperate zone emission factor revisions were published in the IPCC Wetlands Supplement. Default values for direct CO2 emissions of artificially drained organic soils were increased by a factor of 1.6 for cropland sites and by factors ranging from 14 to 24 for grassland sites. This highlights the role of drained organic soils as emission hotspots and makes their rewetting more attractive as climate change mitigation measures. Drainage emissions of humic soils are lower on a per hectare basis and not covered by IPCC default values. However, drainage of great areas can turn them into nationally relevant emission sources. National policy making that recognizes the importance of preserving organic and humic soils’ carbon stock requires data that is not readily available. Taking Ireland as a case study, this article demonstrates how a dataset of policy relevant information can be generated. Total area of histic and humic soils drained for agriculture, resulting greenhouse gas emissions and climate change mitigation potential were assessed. For emissions from histic soils, calculations were based on IPCC emission factors, for humic soils, a modified version of the ECOSSE model was used. Results indicated 370,000 ha of histic and 426,000 ha of humic soils under drained agricultural land use in Ireland (8% and 9% of total farmed area). Calculated annual drainage emissions were 8.7 Tg CO2e from histic and 1.8 Tg CO2e from humic soils (equal to 56% of Ireland’s agricultural emissions in 2014, excluding emissions from land use). If half the area of drained histic soils was rewetted, annual saving would amount to 3.2 Tg CO2e. If on half of the deep drained, nutrient rich grasslands drainage spacing was decreased to control the average water table at −25 cm or higher, annual savings would amount to 0.4 Tg CO2e.
    • 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, Lilian; Creamer, Rachel E.; Fealy, Reamonn; Lanigan, Gary; Simo, Iolanda; Fenton, Owen; Carfrae, J.; Schulte, Rogier; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier, 2015-09-30)
      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.
    • 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; 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.
    • Teagasc-EPA Soils and Subsoils Mapping Project Final Report Vol. II Maps & Statistics

      green, stuart; Fealy, Reamonn; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (2021-02-01)
      This report contains the maps and statistics for this project.