• The use of Sulphur as a Fertilizer

      Brogan, J.C.; Murphy, M.D. (An Foras Taluntais, 1979)
    • Spent Mushroom Compost - Options for use

      Maher, M.J.; Lenehan, J.J.; Staunton, W.P. (Teagasc, 1993-11)
    • Evaluation of Mehlich 3 as a Micronutrient Extractant on Irish Grassland Soils

      Brennan, Dennis D. (2002)
      The use of multinutrient extractants has been increasing in recent years, Mehlich 3 (M3) being one that has gained wide acceptance. The objective of this study was to see how M3 compared with methods currently used in Ireland for Cu, Zn, Mn and Fe extraction, and to investigate if it could be used to determine available Mo. Samples from eight mineral soil types, four of sandstone/shale and four of limestone origin and some organic soils were analysed for the micronutrients Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo and Zn using M3 and conventional extractants. Herbage samples were taken from specific mineral soils and analysed for the same range of elements. M3 results showed good correlation with EDTA and DTPA extractable Cu and Zn, and with easily reducible Mn, but poor correlation with DTPA extractable Mn and Fe. It was not possible to measure Mo in the M3 extract. Inclusion of soil properties and interacting elements in multiple regression models improved the coefficients of determination. Different relationships between extractants were displayed for mineral and organic soils. All extractants were equal in their ability to predict micronutrient content of herbage. Differences between sandstone/shale and limestone soils in relation to herbage micronutrient content were also found; the better relationships were generally found on the sandstone/shale. Results are generally in line with published data, but disagree with those of some studies. M3 is subject to the same shortcomings as existing extractants, but it’s versatility and range does offer an advantage.
    • 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 Programme (NDP); 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.
    • The Effects of Seed Treatment, Sowing date, Cultivar and Harvest date on the Yield and Quality of Sugar Beet

      O'Donovan, Timothy M.; Irish Sugar Plc; Germain’s U.K. (2002)
      Trials were carried out at Lyons Estate Research Farm during 1998 on sugar beet (Beta Vulgaris). The commercially available seed treatment ‘Advantage’ was tested across 3 sowing dates, 4 commercially available cultivars and 4 harvest dates. Trials were carried out in a factorial arrangement and subject to standard statistical analysis. Data on emergence, ground cover, yield and quality was analysed. Percentage emergence of seed was satisfactory in all experiments. The benefit of ‘Advantage’ treatment during the emergence stage of growth was clearly seen in all trials. On average ‘Advantage’ seed emerged 2-3 days earlier than untreated seed and reached the target population (>75,000 plants/ha 4 days sooner than the control seed. During the growing season, ground cover was measured until complete cover was reached. In the trials it was less clear as to the benefits of using the treatment ‘Advantage’, as it was seldom statically different from control seed. As yields can be related to the radiation intercepted, it is not surprising that there were not large differences in yields. Delaying sowing date resulted in decreased yields of clean beet, sugar and extractable sugar. The two triploid varieties, Libra and Accord gave better yields of clean beet, sugar and extractable sugar than the two diploid cultivars Zulu and Celt. Delaying harvesting gave increased yields of clean beet, sugar and extractable sugar. The ‘Experimental’ seed treatment was not superior to the ‘Advantage’ treatment. In only one of the experiments was ‘Advantage’ better than the control treatment in respect of yield of clean beet, in the time of harvest trial. This was not reflected in yield of sugar or extractable sugar. In all other situations, there were no differences between ‘Advantage’ and the control treatments. There was no benefit from using ‘Advantage’ seed in the current experiments. However earlier sowing dates require investigation with pre-treated seed.
    • Unsaturated zone travel time to groundwater on a vulnerable site

      Richards, Karl G.; Coxon, Catherine E.; Ryan, Michael (Taylor & Francis, 2005)
      A bromide (Br) tracing experiment was conducted to ascertain unsaturated zone travel time to groundwater on a site with a karstified limestone aquifer overlain by a thin free-draining overburden. Br tracer was applied to areas surrounding two boreholes; soil solution and groundwater Br concentrations were monitored. Bromide was first detected after eight and 34 days in the soil solution and groundwater. The quick break-through of the applied Br in the soil solution and groundwater indicates the presence of preferential flow in the soil at this site. The time to maximum groundwater Br concentration supports a dominant matrix flow path through the overburden and then preferential flow through the unsaturated limestone bedrock. The results indicated that the transport of conservative contaminants, such as nitrate, can be expected to occur in a single recharge season. The occurrence of preferential flow raises concerns over rapid transport of non-conservative contaminants such as faecal coliforms and this merits further investigation.
    • A note on the effect of elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases on spring wheat yield in Ireland

      Donnelly, A; Finnan, John; Jones, M.B.; Burke, J.I (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005)
      Spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L., cv. Minaret) was grown to maturity in open-top chambers under two concentrations of CO2 (ambient and 680 μmol/mol) and two concentrations of O3 (ambient and ambient +90 nmol/mol). Elevated concentrations of CO2 increased grain yield whereas yield was reduced by elevated O3. The damaging effect of elevated O3 on grain yield was reduced when the crop was grown in a combination of elevated CO2 and elevated O3. It is concluded that wheat production in Ireland is expected to benefit from rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2.
    • Establishment of a bovine/Quercus silvopastoral experiment in lowland Ireland.

      Short, Ian; McAdam, J.; Culleton, Noel; Douglas, Gerry C. (CAB International, 2005)
      A silvopastoral experiment was established at Teagasc in County Wexford, Ireland, in 2002 with oak (Quercus robur L.) in an alley design and bovines. The experiment includes some treatments with trees produced with an enhanced root system (RPM). The treatments are: (1) control pasture plots; (2) RPM agroforestry (400 stems/ha); (3) conventional agroforestry (400 stems/ha); (4) RPM forestry (6600stems/ha; and (5) conventional forestry (6600 stems/ha). The trees were successfully established and cattle were successfully managed in combination with the trees. In the first year, height growth of bare-root oaks was significantly greater in the forestry treatment compared to the agroforestry treatment and, overall, RPM oaks were taller than bare-root plants. Among the RPM trees, the agroforestry system resulted in a greater stem diameter than those in the forestry plots. Height increment was greater for RPM trees than for bare-root trees.
    • GM Crop Cultivation in Ireland: Ecological and Economic Considerations

      Meade, Conor V.; Mullins, Ewen; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (Phase 1) (Royal Irish Academy, 2005-03-31)
      Like many states in the European Union, Ireland has yet to fully commit itself to geneticallymodified (GM) crop technology. The general position of the Irish Government is ‘positive but precautionary’. However, with the European‐wide de‐facto moratorium on commercial production of GM crops now ended, many strategically important decisions regarding the commercial deployment of such crops and their co‐existence with conventional/organic crops need to be considered. To date, little research on the environmental impact of GM crops has been carried out in Ireland, and the provision of relevant local information lags far behind that available in other countries in the European Union. In this paper, we discuss much of the new ecological and economic data that have emerged since the moratorium on GM crops was introduced in 1998, assess the likely impacts of pest‐oriented GM crops should they be introduced to Ireland and examine criteria for post‐release monitoring. We also describe the likely commercial demand for these crops and the consequent priorities for ecological research. We argue that the impact of GM technology needs to be assessed in relation to the environmental impact of modern agriculture as a whole. Public unease in relation to this technology may be addressed if adequate resources are made available for independent Irish research on the issue.
    • Nitrous Oxide Emissions

      Hyde, Bernard; Ryan, Mary; Hawkins, M.; Connolly, J.; Carton, Owen T. (Teagasc, 2005-04-01)
      Nitrous oxide (N2O) is one of the three most important greenhouse gases (GHG). Nitrous oxide emissions currently account for approximately one third of GHG emissions from agriculture in Ireland. Emissions of N2O arise naturally from soil sources and from the application of nitrogen (N) in the form of N fertilizers and N in dung and urine deposition by grazing animals at pasture. Nitrous oxide emission measurements were conducted at three different scales. Firstly, a large-scale field experiment was undertaken to compare emission rates from a pasture receiving three different rates of N fertilizer application and to identify the effects of controlling variables over a two-year period. Variation in emission rates was large both within and between years. Two contrasting climatic years were identified. The cooler and wetter conditions in year 1 gave rise to considerably lower emission levels than the warmer and drier year 2. However, in both years, peak emissions were associated with fertilizer N applications coincident with rainfall events in the summer months. A small-plot study was conducted to identify the individual and combined effects of fertilizer, dung and urine applications to grassland. Treatment effects were however, difficult to obtain due to the overriding effects of environmental variables. Thirdly, through the use of a small-scale mini-lysimeter study, the diurnal nature of N2O emission rates was identified for two distinct periods during the year. The occurrence of a diurnal pattern has important implications for the identification of a measurement period during the day which is representative of the true daily flux. The research presented aims to identify the nature and magnitude of N2O emissions and the factors which affect emission rates from a grassland in Ireland. Further work is required to integrate the effects of different soil types and contrasting climatic regimes across soil types on N2O emissions.
    • The Farmland Wildlife Survey – raising awareness of wildlife habitats

      Gabbett, Mairead; Finn, John (Teagasc, 2005-08-01)
      The Farmland Wildlife Survey involved a short visit (about 3 hours) to 19 REPS demonstration farms, and an identification of habitats and wildlife on each farm, with an emphasis on common farmland habitats such as hedgerows, ponds, watercourses, field margins, woodland, plant species and other areas of wildlife value. The survey results were provided to the farmer and Teagasc REPS advisor as a report with colour pictures of representative habitats, and an explanation of why these habitats were important for wildlife.
    • Effect of Agricultural Practices on Nitrate Leaching

      Ryan, M.; McNamara, K.; Brophy, Caroline; Connolly, J.; Carton, Owen T.; Richards, Karl G. (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      A farm-scale study, carried out at Teagasc, Moorepark (Curtin’s farm), examined the effect of four managements (treatments) on nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) leaching over the period 2001-`05. Leaching was measured in these treatments: (T1) plots receiving dirty water and N fertilizer which were grazed; (T2) 2-cut silage and grazing plots receiving slurry and fertilizer N; (T3) grazed plots receiving fertilizer N and (T4) 1-cut silage and grazing plots receiving slurry and fertilizer N. The soil is a free-draining sandy loam overlying Karstic fissured limestone. The mean direct N inputs (kg/ha) for T1-T4 in 2001-`04 were 311, 309, 326, 331, respectively, with stocking rates (LU/ha) of 2.12 - ~2.47. Eight ceramic cups per plot, in 3 replicate plots of each treatment, were used to collect water, on a weekly basis, from 1.0 m deep using 50 kPa suction. There were 33, 37, 26 and 24 sampling dates in the 4 years, respectively. The NO3-N and NH4-N concentrations (mg/l) were determined in the water samples. The annual average and weekly concentration of these parameters was statistically analysed for all years, using a repeated measures analysis. The aggregated data were not normally distributed. There was an interaction between treatment and year (p<0.001). Significant differences (p=0.05) in NO3-N concentrations showed between the treatments in years 1, 2, 4 but not in year 3. For the NH4-N data there was no interaction between treatment and year, p=0.12, or main effect of treatment, p=0.54 but there were differences between years, p=0.01. Mean weekly concentrations were analysed separately for each year. For NO3-N, in years 1, 2 and 4 there was an interaction between treatment and week (p<0.001). With NH4-N, there was an interaction between treatment and week in all 4 years. Dirty water was significantly higher than grazed and 1 cut silage in NO3-N concentrations in year 1; in year 2, dirty water and 2 cut silage were significantly higher than the other treatments while in year 4, dirty water and grazed were significantly higher than the other two treatments. The overall four-year weighted mean NO3-N and NH4-N concentrations were 8.2 and 0.297 mg/l. The NCYCLE (UK) model was adapted for Irish conditions as NCYCLE_IRL. The NCYCLE empirical approach proved to be suitable to predict N fluxes from Irish grassland systems in most situations. Experimental data appeared to agree quite well, in most cases, with the outputs from NCYCLE_IRL. The model was not capable of predicting data from some of the leaching experiments, which suggests that the observed leaching phenomena in these experiments could be governed by non-average conditions or other parameters not accounted for in NCYCLE_IRL. An approach that took into account denitrification, leaching and herbage yield would probably explain the differences found. NCYCLE_IRL proved to be a useful tool to analyse N leaching from grazed and cut grassland systems in Ireland.
    • Changes in yield and composition of barley, wheat and triticale grains harvested during advancing stages of ripening

      Stacey, P.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Hackett, Richard; Rice, B.; O'Mara, Frank P.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      This study involved an evaluation of the changes in grain yield, nutritive value, ensilability and harvesting losses of intensively managed winter cereals harvested during the advancing stages of ripening. Five cereal crops (barley cv. Regina and wheat cv. Madrigal in 2001; barley cv. Regina, wheat cv. Falstaff and triticale cv. Fidelio in 2002) were assessed. Twenty plots per crop were arranged in a randomised complete block design, with five times of harvest (four for barley in 2002) and four replicate blocks per harvest. Dry matter (DM) yields changed relatively little between harvest dates, but fresh yields declined (P < 0.001) over time due to the moisture loss associated with ripening. Time-course changes in indices of nutritive value, such as concentrations of crude protein, starch and ash, and organic matter digestibility, were relatively small and did not follow a consistent pattern. Ensilability indices, such as DM and watersoluble carbohydrate concentrations and buffering capacity, indicated that satisfactory fermentations were likely if such crops were ensiled; buffering capacity, generally declining with advancing maturity. Harvesting losses were not clearly related to growth stage at harvest. It is concluded that winter cereal grain (barley, wheat and triticale) DM yields and quality were relatively constant as ripening progressed from DM concentrations of around 550 to >800 g/kg.
    • The microbiological and chemical composition of baled and precision-chop silages on a sample of farms in County Meath

      McEniry, Joseph; O'Kiely, Padraig; Clipson, N.W.J; Forristal, P.D.; Doyle, E.M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      Baled and precision-chop silages were examined on a sample of farms in the Irish midlands to determine microbiological and chemical composition at feedout. Silage making practices and chemical composition were similar to those in national surveys. Wilting was an integral part of baled silage production and was reflected in a more restricted fermentation (higher pH and water-soluble carbohydrates, with lower fermentation acids and buffering capacity) compared to precision-chop silage. Yeast numbers were higher in baled silage, suggesting a more aerobic environment within the bale. Although the fermentation appeared similar in the outer and inner horizons of baled silage, yeast, lactic acid bacteria and Enterobacteria numbers were higher in the outer horizon suggesting less exacting anaerobiosis adjacent to the surface of the bale.
    • Modelling Phosphorus for Grassland: Agronomically and Environmentally Sustainable Advice

      Schulte, Rogier P. (Teagasc, 2006-01-01)
      In 2006, the Nitrates Directive (through S.I. 378 (Anon, 2006)) was implemented in Ireland, aimed at reducing nutrient losses from agriculture to water bodies, i.e. surface waters, groundwater and estuarine waters. This legislation introduced strict regulation of nutrient management on Irish farms. Thus far, nutrient management had largely been based on Teagasc advice (Coulter, 2004). However, in the new policy climate, in addition to advice, compliance with legal limits is also required. This significant change in the practicalities surrounding nutrient management led to a review of Teagasc nutrient (phosphorus and nitrogen) advice, based on the following considerations: Traditionally, nutrient advice had largely been based on fertiliser rates for economically optimal productivity, i.e. rates at which further fertiliser applications would not result in higher economic returns. Now, SI 378 of 2006 demands that nutrient application rates do not exceed crop (grass) demand, nor result in nutrient losses that may have a negative impact on water quality. Previous phosphorus (P) advice (Coulter, 2004) was similar for all soil types, and did not account for potentially different P-requirements, or indeed potentially different risks of P-loss to water between soils. Previous P advice was based on returning optimum crop yields. However, grassland management in Ireland is increasingly focussed on maximising the amount of herbage grazed in situ. With extended grazing seasons and an increasing share of the animal diet consisting of grazed herbage, the scope and flexibility of diet supplementation through straights and concentrates is reduced. An increasing proportion of dietary P must be obtained from this grazed herbage as a result. Therefore P fertiliser strategies should no longer be based on yield responses alone, but in addition sustain adequate herbage P-concentrations in order to ensure that the dietary P requirements can be met on a non-supplemented diet of grazed herbage. Against this background, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle Environment Research Centre, undertook a major research programme, reviewing both agronomic and environmental aspects of P-advice for grassland.
    • Mapping the broad habitats of the Burren using satellite imagery

      Parr, Sharon; O’Donovan, Grace; Finn, John (Teagasc, 2006-03-01)
      This project has successfully used satellite imagery to survey and map the extent and spatial distribution of broad habitat types within the Burren, and we have represented this information on a digitised habitat map. this information on a digitised habitat map. This map is the first to show the distribution of the broad habitats of the Burren and will be an important tool in aiding future decisions as to how the habitats of the Burren should be managed to the benefit of both the farmer and the environment. The map provides the first estimate of the area of the Burren affected by scrub encroachment – this being one of the most significant threats to the EU priority habitats in the region. On a particularly challenging area with a high diversity and complexity of habitats, remote sensing appears to offer a very effective and cost-efficient alternative to broad-scale habitat mapping on a field-by-field basis. The use of high-resolution imagery and ground-truthing should be adopted to complete a detailed national survey of habitats and land use in Ireland. This would support more effective implementation of both the Agriculture sector’s obligations under the Habitats Directive, and agri-environmental schemes with wildlife objectives. The outputs provided by such mapping approaches could inform the targeting of agri-environmental objectives, and increase the efficiency of detecting areas of high conservation value for monitoring by more conventional methods. The detailed land use descriptions offered by such imagery are also of high relevance to modelling approaches and risk assessment for implementation of land use policies such as the Water Framework Directive and Nitrates Directive.
    • Agriculture, meteorology and water quality in Ireland: a regional evaluation of pressures and pathways of nutrient loss to water

      Schulte, Rogier P.; Richards, Karl G.; Daly, Karen M.; Kurz, I.; McDonald, E.J.; Holden, N.M. (Royal Irish Academy, 2006-07-31)
      The main environmental impact of Irish agriculture on surface and ground water quality is the potential transfer of nutrients to water. Soil water dynamics mediate the transport of nutrients to water, and these dynamics in turn depend on agro-meteorological conditions, which show large variations between regions, seasons and years. In this paper we quantify and map the spatio-temporal variability of agro-meteorological factors that control nutrient pressures and pathways of nutrient loss. Subsequently, we evaluate their impact on the water quality of Irish rivers. For nitrogen, pressure and pathways factors coincide in eastern and southern areas, which is reflected in higher nitrate levels of the rivers in these regions. For phosphorus, pathway factors are most pronounced in north-western parts of the country. In south-eastern parts, high pressure factors result in reduced biological water quality. These regional differences require that farm practices be customised to reflect the local risk of nutrient loss to water. Where pathways for phosphorus loss are present almost year-round—as is the case in most of the north-western part of the country—build-up of pressures should be prevented, or ameliorated where already high. In south-eastern areas, spatio-temporal coincidence of nutrient pressures and pathways should be prevented, which poses challenges to grassland management.
    • Surface and Groundwater Interactions: Location of a sub-surface remediation trench

      Fenton, Owen (Teagasc, 2006-12-01)
      The Water Framework Directive aims to achieve at least “good status” of all surface and groundwater bodies by 2015. In 2009 programmes of measures to achieve this status must be implemented. In 2012 water quality response to these measures will be examined at river basin catchment level. The adoption of the Water Framework Directive from the 1st January 2007 restricts the amount of nutrients which can be applied to agricultural land. A nutrient discharge to a waterbody has a negative impact on the environment and may lead to eutrophication. A broad strategy exists at European level to minimise nutrient loss to a waterbody. This strategy examines the source/pressure, pathway and receptor approach for nutrient transport. Such nutrient management strategies try to minimise nutrient loss while maintaining productivity. Nitrogen usage is now associated with environmental degradation even at lower levels than the maximum allowable concentration (11.3 mg NO3-N L-1). A further strategy proposes that nutrient management and increased utilisation of nutrients alone will fail to recognise nutrient loss even at high levels of efficiency. This strategy attempts to use remediation (Nitrate) and control technologies (Phosphorous) to intercept nutrients before discharge. Another function would be to further reduce concentrations presently at allowable levels. This introduces an interceptor phase into the nutrient transfer model.
    • Manipulating the ensilage of wilted, unchopped grass through the use of additive treatments

      McEniry, Joseph; O'Kiely, Padraig; Clipson, N.W.J.; Forristal, P.D.; Doyle, E.M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      Baled silage composition frequently differs from that of comparable conventional precision-chop silage. The lower final concentration of fermentation products in baled silage makes it more conducive to the activities of undesirable microorganisms. Silage additives can be used to encourage beneficial microbial activity and/or inhibit detrimental microbial activity. The experiment was organised in a 2 (chop treatments) × 6 (additive treatments) × 2 (stages of ensilage) factorial arrangement of treatments (n = 3 silos/treatment) to suggest additive treatments for use in baled silage production that would help create conditions more inhibitory to the activities of undesirable microorganisms and realise an outcome comparable to precision-chop silage. Chopping the herbage prior to ensiling, in the absence of an additive treatment, improved the silage fermentation. In the unchopped herbage, where the fermentation was poorer, the lactic acid bacterial inoculant resulted in an immediate increase (P < 0.001) in lactic acid concentration and a faster decline (P < 0.001) in pH with a subsequent reduction in butyric acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia-N (P < 0.01) concentrations. When sucrose was added in addition to the lactic acid bacterial inoculant, the combined treatment had a more pronounced effect on pH, butyric acid and ammonia-N values at the end of ensilage. The formic acid based additive and the antimicrobial mixture restricted the activities of undesirable microorganisms resulting in reduced concentrations of butyric acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia-N (P < 0.01). These additives offer a potential to create conditions in baled silage more inhibitory to the activities of undesirable microorganisms.
    • Projections of forestry as a competitor with mainstream agricultural enterprises and the consequent environmental implications

      Donnellan, Trevor (Teagasc, 2007-01-01)
      Through its relationship with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), staff at the Rural Economy Research Centre (RERC) have developed a system of econometric models of the Irish Agriculture sector. The output from these models includes, amongst other things, projections of agricultural activity levels under different policy options. From an environmental perspective, information on future levels of agricultural activity are important since they can facilitate the calculation of aggregate national levels of emissions of various pollutants from agriculture. The project has also produced a model which makes projections of forestry planting.