• The agricultural impact of the 2015–2016 floods in Ireland as mapped through Sentinel 1 satellite imagery

      O'Hara, Rob; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, 2019-10-11)
      Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research | Volume 58: Issue 1 The agricultural impact of the 2015–2016 floods in Ireland as mapped through Sentinel 1 satellite imagery R. O’Haraemail , S. Green and T. McCarthy DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/ijafr-2019-0006 | Published online: 11 Oct 2019 PDF       Abstract Article PDF References Recommendations Abstract The capability of Sentinel 1 C-band (5 cm wavelength) synthetic aperture radio detection and ranging (RADAR) (abbreviated as SAR) for flood mapping is demonstrated, and this approach is used to map the extent of the extensive floods that occurred throughout the Republic of Ireland in the winter of 2015–2016. Thirty-three Sentinel 1 images were used to map the area and duration of floods over a 6-mo period from November 2015 to April 2016. Flood maps for 11 separate dates charted the development and persistence of floods nationally. The maximum flood extent during this period was estimated to be ~24,356 ha. The depth of rainfall influenced the magnitude of flood in the preceding 5 d and over more extended periods to a lesser degree. Reduced photosynthetic activity on farms affected by flooding was observed in Landsat 8 vegetation index difference images compared to the previous spring. The accuracy of the flood map was assessed against reports of flooding from affected farms, as well as other satellite-derived maps from Copernicus Emergency Management Service and Sentinel 2. Monte Carlo simulated elevation data (20 m resolution, 2.5 m root mean square error [RMSE]) were used to estimate the flood’s depth and volume. Although the modelled flood height showed a strong correlation with the measured river heights, differences of several metres were observed. Future mapping strategies are discussed, which include high–temporal-resolution soil moisture data, as part of an integrated multisensor approach to flood response over a range of spatial scales.
    • Assessing the Geographic Representativity of Farm Accountancy Data

      green, stuart; O'Donoghue, Cathal (MDPI AG., Basel, Switzerland, 06/02/2013)
      The environment affects agriculture, via soils, weather, etc. and agriculture affects the environment locally at farm level and via its impact on climate change. Locating agriculture within its spatial environment is thus important for farmers and policy makers. Within the EU countries collect detailed farm data to understand the technical and financial performance of farms; the Farm Accountancy Data Network. However, knowledge of the spatial-environmental context of these farms is reported at gross scale. In this paper, Irish farm accounting data is geo-referenced using address matching to a national address database. An analysis of the geographic distribution of the survey farms, illustrated through a novel 2D ranked pair plot of the coordinates, compared to the national distribution of farms shows a trend in the location of survey farms that leads to a statistical difference in the climatic variables associated with the farm. The farms in the survey have significantly higher accumulated solar radiation values than the national average. As a result, the survey may not be representative spatially of the pattern of environment x farm system. This could have important considerations when using FADN data in modelling climate change impacts on agri-economic performance.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Barriers to uptake of technology in animal production

      Macken-Walsh, Aine (Teagasc, 2019-12-06)
      Presentation from the Joint Teagasc-SRUC Conference "Rural Futures II: Towards sustainable solutions for Ruminant Pastoral Agricultural Systems in Scotland and Ireland"
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Distribution and extent of High Nature Value farmland in the Republic of Ireland (tetrad scale)

      Matin, Shafique; Sullivan, C. A.; Finn, John; 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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, L.; Creamer, Rachel; Fealy, Reamonn; Lanigan, Gary; Simo, I.; Fenton, Owen; Carfrae, J.; Schulte, R.P.O.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier BV, 2015-09)
      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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • If Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, Build a Door: Reflecting on a Bioeconomy Policy Agenda for Ireland

      Devaney, Laura; Henchion, Maeve; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; 14/SF/857 (The Economic and Social Review, 2017-06-30)
      The development of the bioeconomy offers an alternative economic mode of growth whereby renewable biological resources are transformed to meet food, feed, fuel and fibre needs. Ireland however lacks a cohesive bioeconomy policy to guide this development. Drawing on a strategic analysis of the resource base in Ireland, this paper sets the scene for the development of the Irish bioeconomy. A number of case study opportunities are outlined, followed by a critical analysis of Irish bioeconomy-related policy. The analysis culminates in a bioeconomy policy illustration that highlights the number of competing interests in the bioeconomy arena, alongside the wider governance context that will influence the development of a comprehensive national bioeconomy policy.
    • The Impact of a Values-Based Supply Chain (VBSC) on Farm-Level Viability, Sustainability and Resilience: Case Study Evidence

      Hooks, Teresa; Macken-Walsh, Aine; McCarthy, Olive; Power, Carol; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (MDPI, 2017-02-14)
      The ‘Agriculture of the Middle’ (AotM) development paradigm emphasises that in order to survive, family farms must transition from a supply chain approach to a values-based supply chain (VBSC) approach, involving amendments to both product type and actor dynamics within the chain. This paper presents a qualitative case study of a beef co-operative integrated to a VBSC. We use an analytical framework of viability, sustainability and resilience to analyse impacts at farm-level. Our analysis highlights a number of positive effects on farm-level viability, sustainability and resilience. These benefits stemmed largely from improvements to market orientation, price stability, and members’ capacities in responding to problems. However, the autonomy of the co-operative was challenged by VBSC chain members, which impacted negatively on the stability of the co-operative.
    • Intra-national importation of pig and poultry manure: acceptability under EU Nitrates Directive constraints

      Buckley, Cathal; Fealy, Reamonn; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Institute of Agricultural Management, 2012-07)
      Matching the agronomic limits of manure spread lands from housed animal units is an international concern where receiving lands can become over supplied and lead to water quality problems where eutrophication is a risk. Across the EU, this means establishing policy to export manures to off-farm spread lands under tight regulation. Transitional arrangements across, for example, the Republic of Ireland between 2006-2010 allowed pig and poultry manures to be spread subject only to the nitrogen amendment limits of the EU Nitrates Directive and not the phosphorus limits. From 2013 this arrangement is to be phased out, and pig and poultry producers have consequently expressed concerns about the availability of recipient spread lands for these manures. Using a national farm survey and a multinomial model this paper investigates the willingness of the farming population to import these manures. Results indicate that between 9 and 15 per cent of farmers nationally would be willing to pay to import these manures; a further 17-28 per cent would import if offered on a free of charge basis. Demand is strongest among arable farmers, younger farmer cohorts and those of larger farm size with greater expenditure on chemical fertilisers per hectare and who are not restricted by a Nitrates Directive derogation. The nature of this demand could assist in achieving environmental goals under the EU Nitrates and Water Framework Directives.