• Modelling Phosphorus for Grassland: Agronomically and Environmentally Sustainable Advice

      Schulte, Rogier P. (Teagasc, 01/01/2006)
      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.
    • Projections of forestry as a competitor with mainstream agricultural enterprises and the consequent environmental implications

      Donnellan, Trevor (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      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.
    • Mapping the broad habitats of the Burren using satellite imagery

      Parr, Sharon; O’Donovan, Grace; Finn, John (Teagasc, 01/03/2006)
      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.
    • Coppice-with-standards: An old silvicultural system with new potential?

      Short, Ian; Campion, Jerry; COFORD (Select Media Ltd, 01/03/2014)
      The last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in the area of broadleaf afforestation in Ireland.Some of these plantations are not performing as well as was expected when planted. This article describes the coppice-with-standards silvicultural system. With the increased demand for fuelwood and greater broadleaf plantation area, some of which may require alternative silvicultural management to the conventional due to poor performance, the coppice–with–standards system has the potential to fulfil many objectives.
    • Nitrous Oxide Emissions

      Hyde, Bernard; Ryan, Mary; Hawkins, M.; Connolly, J.; Carton, Owen T.; Environmental Protection Agency (Teagasc, 01/04/2005)
      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.
    • Pathways for nutrient loss to water with emphasis on phosphorus

      Tunney, Hubert; Kiely, G.; Morgan, G.; Moles, R.; Byrne, P.; Jordan, P.; Daly, Karen M.; Doody, Donnacha G.; Kurz, Isabelle; Bourke, David; O’Reilly, C.; Ryan, T. Declan; Holden, N.; Jennings, E.; Irvine, K.; Carton, Owen T. (Teagasc, 01/06/2007)
      The main objective of this project was to study phosphorus (P) loss from agricultural land under a range of conditions in Ireland, to quantify the main factors influencing losses and make recommendations on ways to reduce these losses. This report is a synthesis of the main conclusions and recommendations from the results of the studies. The final reports from the individual sub-projects in this project are available from the EPA (www.epa.ie).
    • The impact of the grazing animal on phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and suspended solids loss from grazed pastures, Part A

      Tunney, Hubert; Kurz, Isabelle; Bourke, David; O’Reilly, Colin; Jeffrey, D.; Dowding, P.; Foy, B.; Kilpatrick, D.; Haygarth, P. (Teagasc, 01/06/2007)
      In Ireland 90% of the 4.2 million ha of farmland is grassland. Phosphorus deficiency limited grassland production in Ireland and this was corrected by chemical fertiliser use in the 1960s and 1970s. The increased inputs of fertilisers led to increased intensification of grassland with a doubling of grass yield and of grazing animal numbers, from about 3 million to over 6 million livestock units. There is little information on relative contribution of increased chemical fertiliser use compared to increased grazing animal numbers on phosphorus loss to water. The main objective of this study was to obtain information on nutrient loss, particularly phosphorus, in overland flow from cut and grazed grassland plots, with a range of soil test phosphorus levels over three years and implications.
    • The impact of grazing cattle on soil physical properties and nutrient concentrations in overland flow from pasture, Part B

      Kurz, Isabelle; O’Reilly, Conor; Tunney, Hubert; Bourke, David; Environmental Protection Agency (Teagasc, 01/06/2007)
      The loss of nutrients from agricultural land to water bodies is a serious concern in many countries. To gain information on the contribution of grazing animals to diffuse nutrient losses from pasture areas to water, this study looked at the impact of cattle on nutrient concentrations in overland flow and on soil hydrology (bulk density, macroporosity and resistance to penetration). Rainfall simulations to produce overland flow were conducted and soil physical measurements were taken on experimental plots assigned to one of two treatments: 1) cattle had unrestricted access to the plot; 2) cattle could graze the plot but they could neither walk on the plot area nor deposit excrements on it. Areas to which the cattle had free access were characterised by 57%-83% lower macroporosity, by 8%-17% higher bulk density and by 27%-50% higher resistance to penetration than areas from which the cattle were excluded. The nutrients in overland flow from grassland that were affected by the presence of grazing animals were mainly the particulate nitrogen, the organic phosphorus and the potassium concentrations. Overall, the presence of cattle had a longer lasting effect on the soil hydrological parameters measured than on the nutrient concentrations in overland flow.
    • National Soils Database

      Fay, Deirdre; McGrath, David; Zhang, Chaosheng; Carrigg, Cora; O’Flaherty, Vincent; Kramers, Gaelene; Carton, Owen T.; Grennan, Eamonn (Teagasc, 01/07/2007)
      The objectives of the National Soils Database project were fourfold. The first was to generate a national database of soil geochemistry to complete the work that commenced with a survey of the South East of Ireland carried out in 1995 and 1996 by Teagasc (McGrath and McCormack, 1999). Secondly, to produce point and interpolated spatial distribution maps of major, minor and trace elements and to interpret these with respect to underlying parent material, glacial geology, land use and possible anthropogenic effects. A third objective was to investigate the microbial community structure in a range of soil types to determine the relationship between soil microbiology and chemistry. The final objective was to establish a National Soils Archive.
    • Potato Breeding at Oak Park 2000-2006

      Dowley, L.J.; Griffin, D. (Teagasc, 01/07/2009)
      The potato breeding programme at Oak Park was started in the 1960's and has consisted of a number of distinct phases. In the first phase the focus was on the evaluation of the main domestic and foreign varieties for suitability for the Irish market. This was followed by a breeding programme for the domestic market, with particular emphasis on the production of a blight resistant replacement for Kerr’s Pink. The emphasis then switched to breeding for the export market, with the focus on the UK and Mediterranean markets. Since then the breeding programme has been focused on both the domestic, processing and export markets. The process of breeding, testing and multiplying a new potato variety from the making of the initial cross until the new variety can be commercially grown takes about 15 years (see Appendix 1). This report covers the period 2001-2006 (RMIS NO 4720).
    • An inter-laboratory comparison of multi-enzyme and multiple substrate-induced respiration assays to assess method consistency in soil monitoring

      Creamer, Rachel E.; Bellamy, Pat; Black, Helaina I. J.; Cameron, Clare M.; Campbell, Colin D.; Chamberlain, Paul; Harris, Jim; Parekh, Nisha; Pawlett, Mark; Poskitt, Jan; Stone, Dote; Ritz, Karl; UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) (Springer-Verlag, 01/07/2009)
      The use of indicators in soil monitoring schemes to detect changes in soil quality is receiving increased attention, particularly the application of soil biological methods. However, to date, the ability to compare information from different laboratories applying soil microbiological techniques in broad-scale monitoring has rarely been taken into account. This study aimed to assess the consistency and repeatability of two techniques that are being evaluated for use as microbiological indicators of soil quality; multi-enzyme activity assay and multiple substrate induced respiration (MSIR). Data was tested for intrinsic (within-plate) variation, inter-laboratory repeatability (geometric mean regression and correlation coefficient) and land-use discrimination (principal components analysis, PCA). Intrinsic variation was large for both assays suggesting that high replicate numbers will be required. Inter-laboratory repeatability showed diverging patterns for the enzyme assay and MSIR. Discrimination of soils was significant for both techniques with relatively consistent patterns, however combined laboratory discrimination analyses for each technique showed inconsistent correspondence between the laboratories. These issues could be addressed through the adoption of reliable analytical standards for biological methods along with adequate replication. However, until the former is addressed, dispersed analyses are not currently advisable for monitoring schemes.
    • Improving Public Access to the Irish Countryside for Walking – Investigation of Supply and Demand Side Factors

      Buckley, Cathal; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (01/07/2009)
      Increased interest and demand for land based recreational amenities has seen the rise of conflict between landowners and recreationalists (particularly walkers) in the Republic of Ireland. A right of access to the countryside for recreation prevalent across other developed nations does not apply. Stakeholders have tabled various proposals to address this situation ranging from a right to roam across the countryside to a compensation payment to landowners for recreational access. Whilst policy makers are aware of the economic opportunities associated with open-air outdoor recreation activities, rational public decision making requires that economic benefits and costs should be clearly identified and valued to justify any policy intervention. To-date no such evaluation has been undertaken. This thesis explores supply and demand side factors that influence public access provision to the Irish countryside for recreational walking. Firstly, contingent valuation was used to measure the willingness to pay of consumers for improved public access and trail improvements on commonage farmland based on two case study sites in the Connemara region. Secondly, a national representative survey was used to explore the attitudes of landowners across the Republic of Ireland to the wider provision of public access for recreational walking on farmland, including the potential opportunity costs to agriculture as well as the level of compensation demanded by landowners. This thesis argues that based on derived welfare estimates there is significant scope for policy interventions to improve public access to the countryside in the Republic of Ireland.
    • The Farmland Wildlife Survey – raising awareness of wildlife habitats

      Gabbett, Mairead; Finn, John; The Heritage Council (Teagasc, 01/08/2005)
      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.
    • Exploration of flowering control in Lolium perenne L.

      Byrne, Stephen; Mur, Luis AJ; Donnisson, Iain; Guiney, Emma (Teagasc, 01/08/2009)
      Flowering or heading in Lolium perenne (perennial ryegrass) is induced by a period of vernalization, followed by long days at higher temperatures. When heading occurs there is a reduction in the feed quality of the forage and therefore extending the period of vegetative growth or eliminating heading during the growing season will improve the potential of perennial ryegrass in agriculture. Conversely, a better control of flowering time and increased heading will lead to higher seed yield for commercial producers. The aim of this project was to investigate the underlying genetic control of flowering time in perennial ryegrass. An F1 population was created by crosspollinating two lines with different heading dates and a genetic linkage map was constructed using Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers. The population and genetic linkage map was then used to identify Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) associated with heading date, spike length and spikelets per spike. A number of QTL were identified for all traits, some of which had not previously been identified in perennial ryegrass. A Suppression Subtractive Hybridization (SSH) study was also employed to identify genes differentially expressed between an extremely late flowering line and earlier flowering sibling line. Expression analysis of a number of identified genes through floral induction was performed using real time RT-PCR. This revealed a number of transcripts with expression profiles indicative of a role to play in floral induction.
    • Potential for gene-flow from cultivated Irish grasses and cereals

      Mullins, Ewen; Ryan, Eimear; Meade, Conor (Teagasc, 01/08/2009)
      The importance of gene movement from cultivated plants has been highlighted in regard to minimising the movement of seed and/or pollen between GM and non-GM crops (i.e. gene flow). Although ryegrass covers in excess of 90% of Ireland’s agricultural area, very little is known about gene flow from ryegrass populations from an Irish context. The goal of this project was to address this lack of data by measuring the degree of pollen-mediated gene-flow between two Lolium spp. in a field environment. Ryegrass (esp. Lolium perenne) was selected because as the dominant pasture grass it is critical for the livestock industry as well as being a current target for novel improvements. The results from this research indicate that the potential for pollen-mediated gene flow from perennial ryegrass decreases exponentially with increased distance from the pollen source, with hybridisation events recorded out at 192m. In parallel to this research, a separate study was conducted to assess the degree of genetic diversity within feral and wild Lolium spp across Ireland and also within the important crop weed Avena fatua (‘wild oats’); thereby providing an insight into the degree of historic gene flow that has occurred within each species and in regard to the latter, identifying the potential for non-native A. fatua to colonise the Irish agrienvironment.
    • Assessing populations of the major cereal pathogens for reduced sensitivity to MBC, DMI and Strobilurin fungicides

      O’Sullivan, Eugene (Teagasc, 01/08/2009)
      Studies of eyespot populations in winter wheat crops in the period 2001 to 2003 showed that the R type (Tapesia acuformis) is the dominant strain comprising 77% of isolates. Over 90% of isolates were resistant to MBC fungicides, 53% showed reduced sensitivity to prochloraz and 22% reduced sensitivity to cyprodinil. A study of winter wheat crops in February and March 2003 showed that resistance to strobilurin fungicides was widespread in Mycosphaerella graminicola (Septoria tritici) populations. Resistance was found in all but one of 21 crops sampled, at levels ranging from 9% to 84% with an average of 48%. Subsequent studies of 27 crops over the summer of 2003 showed that strobilunin resistance increased from an average of 31% before the application of the second (T2) spray to an average of 73%, three to four weeks after the application of the final (T3) spray. Strobilurin resistance in M. graminicola remained high in 2004, ranging from 50% to 100% with an average of 83% in populations in winter wheat crops sampled in March. The effect of different fungicide programmes on resistance was studied during summer 2003 at two experimental sites. Levels of strobilurin resistance in M. graminicola populations increased during the summer, in unsprayed plots and plots treated with triazole fungicides as well as in those treated with strobiurin fungicides at both sites. M. graminicola populations in winter wheat crops sampled in 2003 and 2004 were predominantly resistant to MBC-generating fungicides and sensitive to the triazole-based fungicides. Studies of the barley leaf blotch pathogen Rhynchosporium secalis showed that resistance to MBC fungicides occurred in 20% of isolates collected from crops from 2001 to 2003, but all isolates were sensitive to triazole and strobilurin fungicides.
    • 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.
    • Evaluation of rape-seed oil production, extraction and use as fuel in modified diesel engines

      Rice, B.; Sustainable Energy Ireland (Teagasc, 01/09/2009)
      It is now well established that rape-seed oil can provide a sustainable source of renewable fuel for diesel engines. The main problem is a high viscosity and vaporisation temperature, which could lead to pumping, atomisation and combustion difficulties. These problems can be overcome in either of two ways: by further processing of the oil to improve its pumping and combustion properties (usually achieved by esterification and layer separation to produce biodiesel) or by some peripheral modifications to the engine to allow it to cope with the more viscous fuel. Engine conversion kits for this purpose are widely available. The second option has attractions in Ireland, at least in the short-term, for a number of reasons. Plants can be established quickly, and so could make an immediate if small contribution to the achievement of Ireland’s substitution target in the Transport Biofuels Directive (Commission of European Communities, 2003). The small operating scale of coldpressing oil extraction plants could be achieved without undue difficulty, and the capital investment required to launch such a project is relatively low. In the event of a biodiesel plant being established at some stage in the future, the option of sourcing some of the oil requirement from these extraction plants would still be available.
    • Chemical amendment of pig slurry: control of runoff related risks due to episodic rainfall events up to 48 h after application

      O'Flynn, Cornelius J.; Healy, Mark G.; Wilson, Paul; Hoekstra, Nyncke J.; Troy, Shane M.; Fenton, Owen; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (Springer, 01/09/2013)
      Losses of phosphorus (P) from soil and slurry during episodic rainfall events can contribute to eutrophication of surface water. However, chemical amendments have the potential to decrease P and suspended solids (SS) losses from land application of slurry. Current legislation attempts to avoid losses to a water body by prohibiting slurry spreading when heavy rainfall is forecast within 48 h. Therefore, in some climatic regions, slurry spreading opportunities may be limited. The current study examined the impact of three time intervals (TIs; 12, 24 and 48 h) between pig slurry application and simulated rainfall with an intensity of 11.0±0.59 mm h-1. Intact grassed soil samples, 1 m long, 0.225 m wide and 0.05 m deep, were placed in runoff boxes and pig slurry or amended pig slurry was applied to the soil surface. The amendments examined were: (1) commercial-grade liquid alum (8% Al2O3) applied at a rate of 0.88:1 [Al/total phosphorus (TP)] (2) commercial-grade liquid ferric chloride (38% FeCl3) applied at a rate of 0.89:1 [Fe/TP] and (3) commercial-grade liquid poly-aluminium chloride (10 % Al2O3) applied at a rate of 0.72:1 [Al/TP]. Results showed that an increased TI between slurry application and rainfall led to decreased P and SS losses in runoff, confirming that the prohibition of land-spreading slurry if heavy rain is forecast in the next 48 h is justified. Averaged over the three TIs, the addition of amendment reduced all types of P losses to concentrations significantly different (p<0.05) to those from unamended slurry, with no significant difference between treatments. Losses from amended slurry with a TI of 12 h were less than from unamended slurry with a TI of 48 h, indicating that chemical amendment of slurry may be more effective at ameliorating P loss in runoff than current TI-based legislation. Due to the high cost of amendments, their incorporation into existing management practices can only be justified on a targeted basis where inherent soil characteristics deem their usage suitable to receive amended slurry.
    • Methodology for environmental assessment of agri-environment schemes: the Agri Environmental Footprint Index

      Finn, John A.; Louwagie, G.; Northey, G.; Purvis, G.; Balazs, K.; Mortimer, S.R.; Primdahl, J.; Vesterager, J.-P.; AE-Footprint project (Teagasc, 01/11/2010)
      Agri-environment schemes pay farmers for the provision of environmental services. Such schemes tend to have multiple measures that deliver multiple environmental objectives, and there is a lack of consistent methodology with which to measure the environmental benefits of such schemes. Funded by EU FP6, the Agri-Environment Footprint project (www.footprint.rdg.ac.uk) aimed to address this challenge, and this report provides results from selected components of the project.