• A comparison of SWAT, HSPF and SHETRAN/GOPC for modelling phosphorus export from three catchments in Ireland

      Nasr, Ahmed Elssidig; Bruen, Michael; Jordan, Philip; Moles, Richard; Kiely, Gerard; Byrne, Paul; Environmental Protection Agency; Teagasc; Teagasc (Elsevier, 02/07/2012)
      Recent extensive water quality surveys in Ireland revealed that diffuse phosphorus (P) pollution originating from agricultural land and transported by runoff and subsurface flows is the primary cause of the deterioration of surface water quality. P transport from land to water can be described by mathematical models that vary in modelling approach, complexity and scale (plot, field and catchment). Here, three mathematical models (SWAT, HSPF and SHETRAN/GOPC) of diffuse P pollution have been tested in three Irish catchments to explore their suitability in Irish conditions for future use in implementing the European Water Framework Directive. After calibrating the models, their daily flows and total phosphorus (TP) exports are compared and assessed. The HSPF model was the best at simulating the mean daily discharge while SWAT gave the best calibration results for daily TP loads. Annual TP exports for the three models and for two empirical models were compared with measured data. No single model is consistently better in estimating the annual TP export for all three catchments.
    • The ability of Listeria monocytogenes to form biofilm on surfaces relevant to the mushroom production environment

      Dygico, Lionel Kenneth; Gahan, Cormac G.M.; Grogan, Helen; Burgess, Catherine; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14F881 (Elsevier, 2020-03-16)
      Due to its ubiquitous nature, Listeria monocytogenes is a threat to all fresh fruits and vegetables, including mushrooms, which are Ireland's largest horticultural crop. Although fresh cultivated mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) have not been previously linked with listeriosis outbreaks, the pathogen still poses a threat to the industry, particularly due to its ability to form biofilms. This threat is highlighted by the multiple recalls of mushroom products caused by L. monocytogenes contamination and by previous studies demonstrating that L. monocytogenes is present in the mushroom production environment. In this study, the biofilm formation potential of L. monocytogenes strains isolated from the mushroom production environment was investigated on materials and at temperatures relevant to mushroom production. A preliminary assessment of biofilm formation of 73 mushroom industry isolates was undertaken using a crystal violet assay on polystyrene microtitre plates. The biofilm formation of a subset (n = 7) of these strains was then assessed on twelve different materials, including materials that are representative of the materials commonly found in the mushroom production environments, using the CDC biofilm reactor. Vertical scanning interferometry was used to determine the surface roughness of the chosen materials. All the strains tested using the CDC biofilm reactor were able to form biofilms on the different surfaces tested but material type was found to be a key determining factor on the levels of biofilm formed. Stainless steel, aluminium, rubber, polypropylene and polycarbonate were all able to support biofilm levels in the range of 4–4.9 log10 CFU/cm2, for seven different L. monocytogenes strains. Mushroom industry-specific materials, including growing nets and tarpaulins, were found to support biofilms levels between 4.7 and 6.7 log10 CFU/cm2. Concrete was found to be of concern as it supported 7.7 log10 CFU/cm2 of biofilm for the same strains; however, sealing the concrete resulted in an approximately 2-log reduction in biofilm levels. The surface roughness of the materials varied greatly between the materials (0.7–3.5 log10 Ra) and was found to have a positive correlation with biofilm formation (rs = 0.573) although marginally significant (P = 0.051). The results of this study indicate that L. monocytogenes can readily form biofilms on mushroom industry relevant surfaces, and additionally identifies surfaces of specific concern, where rigorous cleaning and disinfection is required.
    • Absence of Curli in Soil-Persistent Escherichia coli Is Mediated by a C-di-GMP Signaling Defect and Suggests Evidence of Biofilm-Independent Niche Specialization

      Somorin, Yinka M; Vollmerhausen, Tara; Waters, Nicholas; Pritchard, Leighton; Abram, Florence; Brennan, Fiona P.; O'Byrne, Conor; Thomas Crawford Hayes Research Award; NUI Galway College of Science (Frontiers, 2018-06-22)
      Escherichia coli is commonly viewed as a gastrointestinal commensal or pathogen although an increasing body of evidence suggests that it can persist in non-host environments as well. Curli are a major component of biofilm in many enteric bacteria including E. coli and are important for adherence to different biotic and abiotic surfaces. In this study we investigated curli production in a unique collection of soil-persistent E. coli isolates and examined the role of curli formation in environmental persistence. Although most soil-persistent E. coli were curli-positive, 10% of isolates were curli-negative (17 out of 170). Curli-producing E. coli (COB583, COB585, and BW25113) displayed significantly more attachment to quartz sand than the curli-negative strains. Long-term soil survival experiments indicated that curli production was not required for long-term survival in live soil (over 110 days), as a curli-negative mutant BW25113ΔcsgB had similar survival compared to wild type BW25113. Mutations in two genes associated with c-di-GMP metabolism, dgcE and pdeR, correlated with loss of curli in eight soil-persistent strains, although this did not significantly impair their survival in soil compared to curli-positive strains. Overall, the data indicate that curli-deficient and biofilm-defective strains, that also have a defect in attachment to quartz sand, are able to reside in soil for long periods of time thus pointing to the possibility that niches may exist in the soil that can support long-term survival independently of biofilm formation.
    • Acoustic measurement differences on trees and logs from hardwoods in wet and dry condition

      Llana, Daniel F.; Short, Ian; Harte, A. M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; 15-C-666 (U. S. Department of Agriculture, 2019-09)
      Acoustic velocities measured on standing trees using time-of-flight (TOF) devices have been found to be between 7% and 36% higher for softwoods than those in logs using resonance techniques based on longitudinal frequencies. This effect was explained in three different ways: (1) TOF devices on standing trees measure outerwood containing more mature wood while resonance methods assess the whole crosssection, (2) the variation in the velocity is due to loading conditions in standing trees, while logs are free of loads and (3) the acoustic waves are dilatational waves in the case of TOF measurements on standing trees and one-dimensional longitudinal waves in the case of resonance on logs. This is an important topic considering the fact that resonance methods are considered more accurate for predicting mechanical properties and it has been proposed that correction factors should be applied on TOF measurements. In the present work, four hardwoods from Irish forests were studied and, on average, TOF velocities measured in the forest above fibre saturation point (FSP) were 19.8% higher than those from resonance measurements taken on logs immediately after felling. However, this difference reduced to 5.4% when the measurements were repeated at a moisture content (MC) of about 18% in the laboratory. Therefore, there is a MC effect on the velocity differences. Furthermore, higher differences were systematically found in older specimens in wet condition. However, this age effect was small in most cases.
    • Agricultural nutrient surpluses as potential input sources to grow third generation biomass (microalgae): A review

      Fenton, Owen; O hUallachain, Daire (Elsevier, 2012-05)
      Biofuel consumption is increasing and in order to meet EU targets, alternatives to first and second generation biofuels are being examined. The use of micro-algal biomass in the production of biofuel is an area of research which has received attention in recent years. Traditionally, microalgae are commercially grown using synthetic fertilisers, the price of which is linked with rising oil prices. An alternative to the use of inorganic fertiliser is to use surplus agricultural manures in their raw state, bi-products of anaerobic digestion, or runoff and artificial drainage waters, all of which have variable nutrient contents within and across source types. Many studies showed that manures containing a high nutrient content e.g. pig and poultry manures, or bi-products from anaerobic digestion, are potentially viable sources of nutrients to grow algae. Feasibility issues prevail such as variable nutrient contents amongst and across source types, transparency issues and early and sustained nutrient losses during the storage phase. Agitation and efficient nutrient testing before use are important. In Ireland, pig and poultry manures, dairy dirty water, artificial drainage or runoff waters where coupled with agitation during storage to prevent P precipitation and a CO2 source, all have potential to be used in the future.
    • 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, Isabelle; McDonald, E.; Holden, Nicholas M. (Royal Irish Academy, 31/07/2006)
      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.
    • The Agrodiversity Experiment: three years of data from a multisite study in intensively managed grasslands

      Kirwan, Laura; Connolly, John; Brophy, C.; Baadshaug, Ole; Belanger, Gilles; Black, Alistair D; Camus, Tim; Collins, Rosemary; Cop, Jure; Delgado, Ignacio; et al. (Ecological Society of America, 11/06/2014)
      Intensively managed grasslands are globally prominent ecosystems. We investigated whether experimental increases in plant diversity in intensively managed grassland communities can increase their resource use efficiency. This work consisted of a coordinated, continental-scale 33-site experiment. The core design was 30 plots, representing 15 grassland communities at two seeding densities. The 15 communities were comprised of four monocultures (two grasses and two legumes) and 11 four-species mixtures that varied in the relative abundance of the four species at sowing. There were 1028 plots in the core experiment, with another 572 plots sown for additional treatments. Sites agreed a protocol and employed the same experimental methods with certain plot management factors, such as seeding rates and number of cuts, determined by local practice. The four species used at a site depended on geographical location, but the species were chosen according to four functional traits: a fast-establishing grass, a slow-establishing persistent grass, a fast-establishing legume, and a slow-establishing persistent legume. As the objective was to maximize yield for intensive grassland production, the species chosen were all high-yielding agronomic species. The data set contains species-specific biomass measurements (yield per species and of weeds) for all harvests for up to four years at 33 sites. Samples of harvested vegetation were also analyzed for forage quality at 26 sites. Analyses showed that the yield of the mixtures exceeded that of the average monoculture in >97% of comparisons. Mixture biomass also exceeded that of the best monoculture (transgressive overyielding) at about 60% of sites. There was also a positive relationship between the diversity of the communities and aboveground biomass that was consistent across sites and persisted for three years. Weed invasion in mixtures was very much less than that in monocultures. These data should be of interest to ecologists studying relationships between diversity and ecosystem function and to agronomists interested in sustainable intensification. The large spatial scale of the sites provides opportunity for analyses across spatial (and temporal) scales. The database can also complement existing databases and meta-analyses on biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships in natural communities by focusing on those same relationships within intensively managed agricultural grasslands.
    • The ALFAM2 database on ammonia emission from field-applied manure: Description and illustrative analysis

      Hafner, Sasha D.; Pacholski, Andreas; Bittman, Shabtai; Burchill, William; Bussink, Wim; Chantigny, Martin; Carozzi, Marco; Génermont, Sophie; Häni, Christoph; Hansen, Martin N.; et al. (Elsevier, 2017-12-27)
      Ammonia (NH3) emission from animal manure contributes to air pollution and ecosystem degradation, and the loss of reactive nitrogen (N) from agricultural systems. Estimates of NH3 emission are necessary for national inventories and nutrient management, and NH3 emission from field-applied manure has been measured in many studies over the past few decades. In this work, we facilitate the use of these data by collecting and organizing them in the ALFAM2 database. In this paper we describe the development of the database and summarise its contents, quantify effects of application methods and other variables on emission using a data subset, and discuss challenges for data analysis and model development. The database contains measurements of emission, manure and soil properties, weather, application technique, and other variables for 1895 plots from 22 research institutes in 12 countries. Data on five manure types (cattle, pig, mink, poultry, mixed, as well as sludge and “other”) applied to three types of crops (grass, small grains, maize, as well as stubble and bare soil) are included. Application methods represented in the database include broadcast, trailing hose, trailing shoe (narrow band application), and open slot injection. Cattle manure application to grassland was the most common combination, and analysis of this subset (with dry matter (DM) limited to <15%) was carried out using mixed- and fixed-effects models in order to quantify effects of management and environment on ammonia emission, and to highlight challenges for use of the database. Measured emission in this subset ranged from <1% to 130% of applied ammonia after 48 h. Results showed clear, albeit variable, reductions in NH3 emission due to trailing hose, trailing shoe, and open slot injection of slurry compared to broadcast application. There was evidence of positive effects of air temperature and wind speed on NH3 emission, and limited evidence of effects of slurry DM. However, random-effects coefficients for differences among research institutes were among the largest model coefficients, and showed a deviation from the mean response by more than 100% in some cases. The source of these institute differences could not be determined with certainty, but there is some evidence that they are related to differences in soils, or differences in application or measurement methods. The ALFAM2 database should be useful for development and evaluation of both emission factors and emission models, but users need to recognize the limitations caused by confounding variables, imbalance in the dataset, and dependence among observations from the same institute. Variation among measurements and in reported variables highlights the importance of international agreement on how NH3 emission should be measured, along with necessary types of supporting data and standard protocols for their measurement. Both are needed in order to produce more accurate and useful ammonia emission measurements. Expansion of the ALFAM2 database will continue, and readers are invited to contact the corresponding author for information on data submission. The latest version of the database is available at http://www.alfam.dk.
    • Alley coppice—a new system with ancient roots

      Morhart, Christopher D.; Douglas, Gerry C.; Dupraz, Christian; Graves, Anil R.; Nahm, Michael; Paris, Perluigi; Sauter, Udo H.; Sheppard, Jonathan; Spiecker, Heinrich; European Commission (Springer, 2014-05)
      Context: Current production from natural forests will not satisfy future world demand for timber and fuel wood, and new land management options are required. Aims: We explore an innovative production system that combines the production of short rotation coppice in wide alleys with the production of high-value trees on narrow strips of land; it is an alternative form of alley cropping which we propose to call ‘alley coppice’. The aim is to describe this alley coppice system and to illustrate its potential for producing two diverse products, namely high-value timber and energy wood on the same land unit. Methods: Based on a comprehensive literature review, we compare the advantages and disadvantages of the alley coppice system and contrast the features with well-known existing or past systems of biomass and wood production. Results: We describe and discuss the basic aspects of alley coppice, its design and dynamics, the processes of competition and facilitation, issues of ecology, and areas that are open for future research. Conclusion: Based on existing knowledge, a solid foundation for the implementation of alley coppice on suitable land is presented, and the high potential of this system could be shown.
    • Ammonia emissions from cattle dung, urine and urine with dicyandiamide in a temperate grassland

      Fischer, K.; Burchill, William; Lanigan, Gary; Kaupenjohann, M.; Chambers, B. J.; Richards, Karl G.; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF13S430; 11S138 (Wiley, 03/09/2015)
      Deposition of urine and dung in pasture-based livestock production systems is a major source of ammonia (NH3) volatilization, contributing to the eutrophication and acidification of water bodies and to indirect nitrous oxide emissions. The objectives of this study were to (i) measure NH3 volatilization from dung and urine in three seasons, (ii) test the effect of spiking urine with the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) on NH3 volatilization and (iii) generate NH3 emission factors (EFs) for dung, urine and urine + DCD in temperate maritime grassland. Accordingly, simulated dung, urine and urine spiked with DCD (at 30 kg DCD/ha equivalent rate) patches were applied to temperate grassland. Treatments were applied three times in 2014 with one measurement of NH3 loss being completed in spring, summer and autumn. The NH3-N EF was highest in spring, which was most likely due to the near absence of rainfall throughout the duration of loss measurement. The EFs across the experiments ranged between 2.8 and 5.3% (mean 3.9%) for dung, 8.7 and 14.9% (mean 11.2%) for urine and 9.5 and 19.5% (mean 12.9%) for urine + DCD, showing that ammonia loss from dung was significantly lower than from urine. Aggregating country-specific emission data such as those from the current experiment with data from climatically similar regions (perhaps in a weighted manner which accounts for the relative abundance of certain environmental conditions) along with modelling is a potentially resourceefficient approach for refining national ammonia inventories.
    • Ammonia emissions from cattle dung, urine and urine with dicyandiamide in a temperate grassland

      Fischer, K.; Burchill, William; Lanigan, Gary; Kaupenjohann, M.; Chambers, B. J.; Richards, Karl G.; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Wiley, 03/09/2015)
      Deposition of urine and dung in pasture-based livestock production systems is a major source of ammonia (NH3) volatilization, contributing to the eutrophication and acidification of water bodies and to indirect nitrous oxide emissions. The objectives of this study were to (i) measure NH3 volatilization from dung and urine in three seasons, (ii) test the effect of spiking urine with the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) on NH3 volatilization and (iii) generate NH3 emission factors (EFs) for dung, urine and urine + DCD in temperate maritime grassland. Accordingly, simulated dung, urine and urine spiked with DCD (at 30 kg DCD/ha equivalent rate) patches were applied to temperate grassland. Treatments were applied three times in 2014 with one measurement of NH3 loss being completed in spring, summer and autumn. The NH3-N EF was highest in spring, which was most likely due to the near absence of rainfall throughout the duration of loss measurement. The EFs across the experiments ranged between 2.8 and 5.3% (mean 3.9%) for dung, 8.7 and 14.9% (mean 11.2%) for urine and 9.5 and 19.5% (mean 12.9%) for urine + DCD, showing that ammonia loss from dung was significantly lower than from urine. Aggregating country-specific emission data such as those from the current experiment with data from climatically similar regions (perhaps in a weighted manner which accounts for the relative abundance of certain environmental conditions) along with modelling is a potentially resource-efficient approach for refining national ammonia inventories.
    • Ammonia emissions from urea, stabilized urea and calcium ammonium nitrate: insights into loss abatement in temperate grassland

      Forrestal, Patrick J.; Harty, Mary A.; Carolan, Rachael; Lanigan, Gary; Watson, C. J.; Laughlin, Ronald J.; McNeill, Gavin; Chambers, B. J.; Richards, Karl G.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (Wiley, 17/11/2015)
      Fertilizer nitrogen (N) contributes to ammonia (NH3) emissions, which European Union member states have committed to reduce. This study focused on evaluating NH3-N loss from a suite of N fertilizers over multiple applications, and gained insights into the temporal and seasonal patterns of NH3-N loss from urea in Irish temperate grassland using wind tunnels. The fertilizers evaluated were calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), urea and urea with the N stabilizers N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT), dicyandiamide (DCD), DCD+NBPT and a maleic and itaconic acid polymer (MIP). 200 (and 400 for urea only) kg N/ha/yr was applied in five equal applications over the growing season at two grassland sites (one for MIP). Mean NH3-N losses from CAN were 85% lower than urea and had highly variable loss (range 45% points). The effect of DCD on NH3 emissions was variable. MIP did not decrease NH3-N loss, but NBPT caused a 78.5% reduction and, when combined with DCD, a 74% reduction compared with urea alone. Mean spring and summer losses from urea were similar, although spring losses were more variable with both the lowest and highest losses. Maximum NH3-N loss usually occurred on the second day after application. These data highlight the potential of stabilized urea to alter urea NH3-N loss outcomes in temperate grassland, the need for caution when using season as a loss risk guide and that urea hydrolysis in temperate grassland initiates quickly. Micrometeorological measurements focused specifically on urea are needed to determine absolute NH3-N loss levels in Irish temperate grassland.
    • Ammonia emissions from urea, stabilized urea and calcium ammonium nitrate: insights into loss abatement in temperate grassland

      Forrestal, Patrick J.; Harty, Mary A.; Carolan, Rachael; Lanigan, Gary; Watson, C. J.; Laughlin, Ronald J.; McNeill, Gavin; Chambers, B. J.; Richards, Karl G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; et al. (Wiley, 17/11/2015)
      Fertilizer nitrogen (N) contributes to ammonia (NH3) emissions, which European Union member states have committed to reduce. This study focused on evaluating NH3-N loss from a suite of N fertilizers over multiple applications, and gained insights into the temporal and seasonal patterns of NH3-N loss from urea in Irish temperate grassland using wind tunnels. The fertilizers evaluated were calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), urea and urea with the N stabilizers N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT), dicyandiamide (DCD), DCD+NBPT and a maleic and itaconic acid polymer (MIP). 200 (and 400 for urea only) kg N/ha/yr was applied in five equal applications over the growing season at two grassland sites (one for MIP). Mean NH3-N losses from CAN were 85% lower than urea and had highly variable loss (range 45% points). The effect of DCD on NH3 emissions was variable. MIP did not decrease NH3-N loss, but NBPT caused a 78.5% reduction and, when combined with DCD, a 74% reduction compared with urea alone. Mean spring and summer losses from urea were similar, although spring losses were more variable with both the lowest and highest losses. Maximum NH3-N loss usually occurred on the second day after application. These data highlight the potential of stabilized urea to alter urea NH3-N loss outcomes in temperate grassland, the need for caution when using season as a loss risk guide and that urea hydrolysis in temperate grassland initiates quickly. Micrometeorological measurements focused specifically on urea are needed to determine absolute NH3-N loss levels in Irish temperate grassland.
    • An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030

      Lanigan, Gary; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Carsten, Paul; Shalloo, Laurence; Krol, Dominika; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Farrelly, Niall; O’Brien, Donal; Ryan, Mary; et al. (Teagasc, 2018-06-10)
      This report has been prepared by the Teagasc Working Group on GHG Emissions, which brings together and integrates the extensive and diverse range of organisational expertise on agricultural greenhouse gases. The previous Teagasc GHG MACC was published in 2012 in response to both the EU Climate and Energy Package and related Effort Sharing Decision and in the context of the establishment of the Food Harvest 2020 production targets.
    • An Analysis of the Cost of the Abatement of Ammonia Emissions in Irish Agriculture to 2030

      Buckley, Cathal; Krol, Dominika; Lanigan, Gary J.; Donnellan, Trevor; Spink, John; Hanrahan, Kevin; Boland, Andy; Forrestal, Patrick; Humphreys, James; Murphy, Pat; et al. (Teagasc, 2020-09)
      This analysis quantifies the potential to abate national ammonia (NH3) emissions up to 2030. This report is an updated marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) analysis where Teagasc has quantified the abatement potential of a range of ammonia mitigation measures, as well as their associated costs/benefits (see Lanigan et al. 2015 for previous analysis). The objective of this analysis is to quantify the extent and costs associated with meeting future ammonia emission targets that were negotiated as part of the amended Clean Air Policy Package. The requirement to reduce ammonia emissions is urgent, both in terms of compliance with the National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD), and as a principal loss pathway for agricultural nitrogen (N). Improvement of N efficiency is a key focus for improving farm efficiency and sustainability as well as reducing the ammonia, nitrate and greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of agriculture. This is particularly relevant in the context of the national strategies on the development of the agri-food sector: Food Wise 2025, Ag-food strategy 2030 and Ag-Climatise (currently under development) and the newly unveiled EU Farm to Fork Strategy, which is a part of the European Green Deal. Under the baseline scenario (S1), agricultural ammonia emissions are projected to increase by 9% (without any mitigation) by 2030 relative to 2005 levels. While these increases are small in comparison to the targeted increase in agricultural output, they will provide a major challenge to meeting emissions targets, particularly as agriculture comprises over 99% of national emissions. The analysis presented in this report seeks to quantify the ammonia mitigation potential under likely uptake pathways. This is not an exhaustive analysis of all mitigation measures, but represents an assessment of best available techniques, based on scientific, peer-reviewed research carried out by Teagasc and associated national and international research partners. Indeed, any future changes in the sector or in the national emission inventory calculations will require further analysis of the applicability of ammonia mitigation techniques, particularly in terms of housing and storage but also in the context of other reactive N1 emissions. It should also be noted that some mitigation measures, particularly those related to nitrogen application to soils, could result in either higher greenhouse gas emissions or higher nitrate leaching. Compared to a future where no mitigation measures are deployed to address emissions, by 2030 the average technical abatement2 potential was estimated to be approximately 15.26 kt NH3 at a net cost of €10.86 million per annum. However, it should be noted that the net cost (€10.86 million) is comprised of 6 measures that are cost negative (-€22.21 million) and 7 measures that are cost positive (€33.07) and that some of the cost negative measures are predicated on efficiency gains driven by best management practice adoption (e.g. liming and clover measures with associate chemical N reductions). Amongst the thirteen mitigation measures selected for this analysis, 80% of the mitigation potential can be achieved by the full implementation of the mitigation pathways for protected urea and low emission slurry spreading (LESS) techniques for bovines. It should be stressed that this is an assessment of the maximum abatement potential and realising this level of abatement in practice will be extremely challenging. Any increase in agricultural activity beyond the baseline scenario will increase absolute emissions. The level of mitigation achievable is based on the draft AgClimatise measures any delay or reduction in the uptake of these measures will reduce the mitigation achieved. It must also be ensured that all mitigation measures should, where possible, be synergistic with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and N loss to water.
    • Annual replication is essential in evaluating the response of the soil microbiome to the genetic modification of maize in different biogeographical regions

      Szoboszlay, Márton; Näther, Astrid; Mullins, Ewen; Tebbe, Christoph C.; European Union; 289706 (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2019-12-17)
      The importance of geographic location and annual variation on the detection of differences in the rhizomicrobiome caused by the genetic modification of maize (Bt-maize, event MON810) was evaluated at experimental field sites across Europe including Sweden, Denmark, Slovakia and Spain. DNA of the rhizomicrobiome was collected at the maize flowering stage in three consecutive years and analyzed for the abundance and diversity of PCR-amplified structural genes of Bacteria, Archaea and Fungi, and functional genes for bacterial nitrite reductases (nirS, nirK). The nirK genes were always more abundant than nirS. Maize MON810 did not significantly alter the abundance of any microbial genetic marker, except for sporadically detected differences at individual sites and years. In contrast, annual variation between sites was often significant and variable depending on the targeted markers. Distinct, site-specific microbial communities were detected but the sites in Denmark and Sweden were similar to each other. A significant effect of the genetic modification of the plant on the community structure in the rhizosphere was detected among the nirK denitrifiers at the Slovakian site in only one year. However, most nirK sequences with opposite response were from the same or related source organisms suggesting that the transient differences in community structure did not translate to the functional level. Our results show a lack of effect of the genetic modification of maize on the rhizosphere microbiome that would be stable and consistent over multiple years. This demonstrates the importance of considering annual variability in assessing environmental effects of genetically modified crops.
    • Application of Dexter’s soil physical quality index: an Irish case study

      Fenton, Owen; Vero, Sara E.; Schulte, Rogier P.; O'Sullivan, Lilian; Bondi, G.; Creamer, Rachel E.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 6582 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 26/08/2017)
      Historically, due to a lack of measured soil physical data, the quality of Irish soils was relatively unknown. Herein, we investigate the physical quality of the national representative profiles of Co. Waterford. To do this, the soil physical quality (SPQ) S-Index, as described by Dexter (2004a,b,c) using the S-theory (which seeks the inflection point of a soil water retention curve [SWRC]), is used. This can be determined using simple (S-Indirect) or complex (S-Direct) soil physical data streams. Both are achievable using existing data for the County Waterford profiles, but until now, the suitability of this S-Index for Irish soils has never been tested. Indirect-S provides a generic characterisation of SPQ for a particular soil horizon, using simplified and modelled information (e.g. texture and SWRC derived from pedo-transfer functions), whereas Direct-S provides more complex site-specific information (e.g. texture and SWRC measured in the laboratory), which relates to properties measured for that exact soil horizon. Results showed a significant correlation between S-Indirect (Si) and S-Direct (Sd). Therefore, the S-Index can be used in Irish soils and presents opportunities for the use of Si at the national scale. Outlier horizons contained >6% organic carbon (OC) and bulk density (Bd) values <1 g/cm3 and were not suitable for Si estimation. In addition, the S-Index did not perform well on excessively drained soils. Overall correlations of Si. with Bd and of Si. with OC% for the dataset were detected. Future work should extend this approach to the national scale dataset in the Irish Soil Information System.
    • The arrival of a red invasive seaweed to a nutrient over-enriched estuary increases the spatial extent of macroalgal blooms

      Bermejo, Ricardo; MacMonagail, Michéal; Heesch, Svenja; Mendes, Ana; Edwards, Maeve; Fenton, Owen; Knöller, Kay; Daly, Eve; Morrison, Liam; Environmental Protection Agency; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-06)
      The red seaweed Agarophyton vermiculophyllum is an invasive species native to the north-west Pacific, which has proliferated in temperate estuaries of Europe, North America and Africa. Combining molecular identification tools, historical satellite imagery and one-year seasonal monitoring of biomass and environmental conditions, the presence of A. vermiculophyllum was confirmed, and the invasion was assessed and reconstructed. The analysis of satellite imagery identified the first bloom in 2014 and revealed that A. vermiculophyllum is capable of thriving in areas, where native bloom-forming species cannot, increasing the size of blooms (ca. 10%). The high biomass found during the peak bloom (>2 kg m−2) and the observation of anoxic events indicated deleterious effects. The monitoring of environmental conditions and biomass variability suggests an essential role of light, temperature and phosphorous in bloom development. The introduction of this species could be considered a threat for local biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in a global change context.
    • Ash dieback in Ireland – A review of European management options and case studies in remedial silviculture

      Short, Ian; Hawe, Jerry; Woodland Trust NI; COFORD; Teagasc (Society of Irish Foresters, 2018)
      Ash dieback, caused by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, is developing rapidly across the island of Ireland. Ireland’s ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) woodlands, particularly first rotation plantations, are quite unique and are at particular risk of very rapid decline. Urgent action is required in order to minimise the economic, ecological and social impact of the disease. However, for this to happen forest owners require guidance regarding potential positive management interventions. This article outlines the wider, mainly European, experience of remedial silviculture. It presents three case studies on existing remedial silviculture trials in Ireland. In the absence of silvicultural research data specific to the evolving situation with ash dieback, this article explores the potential benefits of positive practical actions which may minimise the impact of the disease. Despite the seriousness of the situation, such silvicultural activity may even result in a positive economic outcome. It is hoped that by beginning to document potential mitigatory management options, this paper may bring some reassurance to owners and managers of ashdominated woodlands.
    • Ash dieback on the island of Ireland

      McCracken, A.R.; Douglas, Gerry C.; Ryan, C.; Destefanis, M.; Cooke, L.R.; European Co-Operation in Science and Technology (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 2017)
      On the island of Ireland it is estimated that there are over half a million kilometres of hedgerows (400,000+ km in the Republic of Ireland (Rep. Ireland) and 113,000+ in Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland). Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is the second most important component, after hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), in large proportions of this hedgerow network. In the Rep. Ireland over 20,000 ha of ash have been planted since 1990, primarily for sawlogs and to provide material for the manufacture of hurleys, which are used in an important national sport called hurling, and for camogie sticks used to play camogie. Ash dieback, caused by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, was first identified on the island in October 2012 and since then has been detected at 306 sites (195 in Rep. Ireland and 111 in Northern Ireland). In the vast majority of cases the outbreaks have been on young, imported trees planted within the previous 5 – 6 years and it was evident that the pathogen had been introduced on trees for planting. On a small number of occasions there was evidence of the pathogen cycling within a plantation or moving from the plantation to infect neighbouring hedgerow trees. One possible mechanism by which the pathogen can build up sufficient inoculum is by the formation of apothecia on infected woody tissue high up on the plants. Rep. Ireland and Northern Ireland have strict policies of eradication and containment, as set out in the All-Ireland Chalara Control Strategy. To date over 2.1 million trees have been destroyed as part of an eradication strategy. It is considered that this prompt and far-reaching action has had a significant impact, significantly mitigating and preventing the rapid establishment of the pathogen and limiting its spread. The interventions since the disease was first confirmed have helped to protect the considerable investment in ash plantations of the last 20 years. The pathogen has not, however, been eradicated from the island of Ireland and it remains to be seen how widespread, and how quickly ash dieback will become established on the island of Ireland. The latest figures from the Republic of Ireland are that 733 hectares of ash plantation has been reconstituted with another species as a result of Chalara and this has cost our state €2.6 million so far; in addition, Chalara has been found and confirmed in all 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland to a greater or lesser extent. As a result the current policies and procedures regarding Chalara are under review.