• The challenge of managing soil functions at multiple scales: An optimisation study of the synergistic and antagonistic trade-offs between soil functions in Ireland

      Valujeva, Kristine; O’Sullivan, Lilian; Gutzler, Carsten; Fealy, Reamonn; Schulte, Rogier P.; European Commission (Elsevier, 2016-08-09)
      Recent forecasts show a need to increase agricultural production globally by 60% from 2005 to 2050, in order to meet a rising demand from a growing population. This poses challenges for scientists and policy makers to formulate solutions on how to increase food production and simultaneously meet environmental targets such as the conservation and protection of water, the conservation of biodiversity, and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. As soil and land are subject to growing pressure to meet both agronomic and environmental targets, there is an urgent need to understand to what extent these diverging targets can be met simultaneously. Previously, the concept of Functional Land Management (FLM) was developed as a framework for managing the multifunctionality of land. In this paper, we deploy and evaluate the concept of FLM, using a real case-study of Irish agriculture. We investigate a number of scenarios, encompassing combinations of intensification, expansion and land drainage, for managing three soil functions, namely primary productivity, water purification and carbon sequestration. We use proxy-indicators (milk production, nitrate concentrations and area of new afforestation) to quantify the ‘supply’ of these three soil functions, and identify the relevant policy targets to frame the ‘demand’ for these soil functions. Specifically, this paper assesses how soil management and land use management interact in meeting these multiple targets simultaneously, by employing a non-spatial land use model for livestock production in Ireland that assesses the supply of soil functions for contrasting soil drainage and land use categories. Our results show that, in principle, it is possible to manage these three soil functions to meet both agronomic and environmental objectives, but as we add more soil functions, the management requirements become increasingly complex. In theory, an expansion scenario could meet all of the objectives simultaneously. However, this scenario is highly unlikely to materialise due to farm fragmentation, low land mobility rates and the challenging afforestation rates required for achieving the greenhouse gas reduction targets. In the absence of targeted policy interventions, an unmanaged combination of scenarios is more likely to emerge. The challenge for policy formation on future land use is how to move from an unmanaged combination scenario towards a managed combination scenario, in which the soil functions are purposefully managed to meet current and future agronomic and environmental targets, through a targeted combination of intensification, expansion and land drainage. Such purposeful management requires that the supply of each soil function is managed at the spatial scale at which the corresponding demand manifests itself. This spatial scale may differ between the soil functions, and may range from farm scale to national scale. Finally, our research identifies the need for future research to also consider and address the misalignment of temporal scales between the supply and demand of soil functions.
    • 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.
    • 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.