Now showing items 1-20 of 225

    • A time of transition: changes in Irish food behaviour and potential implications due to the COVID-19 pandemic

      Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, Sinead N; McCarthy, M.; Corona Cooking Study Group (Teagasc, 2021-05-13)
      Consumers’ food choice decisions are generally relatively stable over time; consumers engage in habitual decision-making due to the high frequency of such decisions for efficiency reasons. As a result, habits are strong predictors of eating behaviour. However, changes in the life of the individual or the external environment can result in more conscious consideration of food choice motives and a transition to new patterns of behaviour to fit the new context. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is examined in this paper as a particularly useful case of how a change in context affects food choice trajectories. Drawing on results from an online survey of 651 food consumers in Ireland, it examines food planning, shopping, preparation and eating behaviour, including stockpiling and influences on decision-making. Overall, it finds significant evidence of a transition towards new patterns of behaviours, with two distinct clusters identified – the “Covid copers” and the “restless restrictors”. For both groups, the shopping experience has become stressful resulting in reduced frequency of shopping and higher levels of planning. Conversely, time pressures related to cooking have reduced, with enjoyment associated with such activities. This is also reflected in stockpiling behaviour; the top three foods most likely to have been stockpiled in Ireland were pasta/rice, eggs and flour, reflecting the nation’s desire to bake and cook during the pandemic. These behaviours are discussed in the context of emerging supply chain actor responses, with considerations for future strategic decisions identified, along with some opportunities for public health nutrition interventions.
    • Embedding animal welfare in sustainability assessment: an indicator approach

      Brennan, M.; Hennessy, Thia; Dillon, Emma Jane (Teagasc, 2021-11-17)
      In line with growing consumer interest in sustainable food production, a number of farm-level sustainability indicator studies have been published in recent years. Despite the importance of animal welfare, many such frameworks fail to adequately take account of it, mostly due to difficulties in accessing suitable data. This paper demonstrates that it is possible to develop indicators of animal welfare that can be embedded within a wider sustainability framework using a representative farm-level dataset such as the European Union (EU) Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) for Ireland, the Teagasc National Farm Survey. The paper presents a set of sustainability indicators for dairy farms in Ireland for the 2014–2017 period and examines the impact of policy reform on sustainability performance. Headline results show that welfare standards on dairy farms in Ireland have remained stable over the period despite the considerable intensification of the dairy sector following EU milk quota removal. Furthermore, dairy farms that have expanded herd size significantly have improved welfare standards more than farms that have not increased production. An analysis of synergies and trade-offs between the various aspects of sustainability reveals that positive correlations exist between welfare standards and economic and environmental performance. The analysis facilitates the identification of win-win farm-level strategies that can be adopted to improve economic, environmental and animal welfare outcomes. The framework developed here presents opportunities for evaluating policy impacts at the farm level on various aspects of sustainability. The use of the FADN demonstrates the capacity to extend such an approach across the EU.
    • Using a Technology Acceptance Model to investigate what factors influence farmer adoption of a nutrient management plan

      McCormack, Michele; Buckley, Cathal; Kelly, E. (Teagasc, 2021-11-17)
      The agricultural sector will play a key role in reaching the goals set out in the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, and so understanding farmer behaviour in relation to farm management best practice is important. In this paper, we investigate if the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) can predict farmer adoption of an online nutrient management plan (NMP). A NMP has the potential to reduce the risk of nutrient transfer from agricultural land, without negatively affecting farm-level profitability. The TAM identifies two psychological constructs, perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEOU), which are believed to be key factors in technology adoption. The data were collected through a survey from 358 farms by a team of professional data recorders in 2015. Results indicate that PU and PEOU of a NMP are positively and significantly related to a farmer’s intention to adopt and use the technology in the future. However, PU, which captures the perceived benefits in terms of usefulness, is the main driver of technology adoption. Results show that those farmers who adopt and use the technology are more likely to have larger farms and are full-time farmers. They use agricultural extension services and the farm is also more likely to be the main contributor to overall household income. The research recommends that the usefulness of a NMP, in terms of increased profitability, improving nutrient management practices, labour and time-saving advantages, should be highlighted and clearly communicated to farmers.
    • Policy drivers of farm succession and inheritance

      Leonard, Brian; Kinsella, Anne; O’Donoghue, Cathal; Farrell, Maura; Mahon, Marie (Elsevier BV, 2017-02)
      Farm succession and inheritance is increasingly considered a complex phenomenon which not only affects core dimensions of farm family life but also the agricultural sector more widely. Intergenerational farm transfer in particular is increasingly viewed as fundamental to the sustainability and development of global agriculture. In the majority of EU countries, the average age of farmers is increasing, while the number of farmers under 40 years of age is decreasing. There is growing concern that this demographic trend may have negative impacts on the agricultural industry because it is younger and not older farmers who are associated with more efficient and effective production practices. The question of what motivates decisions to transfer farms is a complex one, and research to date has not apparently enlightened agricultural policy to the extent that current trends towards an ageing farm population are being managed. This research aims to investigate economic and financial aspects of the policy drivers of farm succession and inheritance in Ireland to understand what it is about the policy environment that is failing to stimulate higher levels of farm transfer. It draws on the Teagasc National Farm Survey data which provides Irish data to the Farm Accountancy Data Network in the European Commission. A hypothetical microsimulation model is used to investigate economic factors of farm transfers, with scenarios created to test these factors and their impacts on the transfer process. The Net Present Value (NPV) of income streams for farmers and their successors are calculated to assess which scenarios have the highest/lowest financial effects. The findings illustrate a range of possible scenarios for farm succession/inheritance, with some results indicating that under current policy retaining a farm until death may be more economically beneficial to a farmer than transferring land before death.
    • 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.
    • A Response to the Draft Climate Change Adaptation Sectoral Plan for Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Sector

      Farrelly, Niall; Lanigan, Gary; Donnellan, Trevor; Richards, Karl; Fealy, Reamonn; O’Donovan, Michael; Mellander, Per-Erik; Mullins, Ewen; Houlihan, Tom; Ní Fhlatharta, Nuala; et al. (2019-08-30)
      Teagasc is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this Draft Climate Change Adaptation Sectoral Plan for Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Sectors, although our contribution will largely be limited to the agriculture and forestry sectors. We have also taken the liberty to contribute in the form of ‘submissions, observations and comments’ as indicated in the call for contributions rather than in the formal questionnaire which appears to be more appropriate for an individual submission rather than an organisational contribution.
    • Beyond ruminants: discussing opportunities for alternative pasture uses in New Zealand

      Lucci, Gina M.; Henchion, Maeve; Lange, Lene; Ledgard, Stewart F.; Collie, Stewart R.; Cosgrove, Gerald P.; Meyer, Anne S.; Graichen, Florian H.M.; Barth, Susanne; Lenehan, James J. (New Zealand Grassland Association, 2019-10-28)
      The New Zealand government has set ambitious goals for primary sector growth and of zero net carbon emissions by 2050. This presents an opportunity and obligation to develop new ideas for grassland production systems to increase export value and generate new job opportunities, while reducing environmental impacts. The aim of this paper is to draw on recent research in Europe to investigate some of the alternative and complementary uses for pasture as a feedstock for a green biorefinery. A biorefinery is a facility, or a series of processes, that convert biomass into a spectrum of value-added products. For example, protein can be extracted mechanically from green biomass once harvested. The residual fibre fraction could be used as a low-nitrogen feed for ruminants to reduce urinary nitrogen, while the liquid protein fraction could be processed to make it suitable for mono-gastric or human consumption. Enzymes can promote protein extraction and controlled conversion of insoluble plant fibres and oligosaccharides to foster gut-health promoting prebiotic food ingredients. Anaerobic digestion of residues can then be used to create energy and soilimproving products. Research and demonstration of these approaches in practice, along with the results of feasibility studies, will be required to see which of these opportunities is a good fit for New Zealand pasture systems.
    • Investigating the Effectiveness of Representations Based on Word-Embeddings in Active Learning for Labelling Text Datasets

      Lu, Jinghui; Henchion, Maeve; Mac Namee, Brian (2021-11-23)
      Manually labelling large collections of text data is a timeconsuming and expensive task, but one that is necessary to support machine learning based on text datasets. Active learning has been shown to be an effective way to alleviate some of the effort required in utilising large collections of unlabelled data for machine learning tasks without needing to fully label them. The representation mechanism used to represent text documents when performing active learning, however, has a significant influence on how effective the process will be. While simple vector representations such as bag-of-words have been shown to be an effective way to represent documents during active learning, the emergence of representation mechanisms based on the word embeddings prevalent in neural network research (e.g. word2vec and transformer based models like BERT) offer a promising, and as yet not fully explored, alternative. This paper describes a large-scale evaluation of the effectiveness of different text representation mechanisms for active learning across 8 datasets from varied domains. This evaluation shows that using representations based on modern word embeddings, especially BERT, which have not yet been widely used in active learning, achieves a significant improvement over more commonly used vector representations like bag-of-words.
    • BRIAR: Biomass Retrieval in Ireland Using Active Remote Sensing (2014-CCRP-MS.17)

      Green, Stuart; Martin, Shafique; Gharechelou, Saeid; Cawkwell, Fiona; Black, Kevin (2021-11-23)
      Biomass Retrieval Using Active Remote Sensing Hedgerows are a very significant component of the Irish landscape. They perform multiple functions, acting as boundary markers, acting as stock-proof fencing, supporting bio-diversity and controlling run-off. They function as reservoirs of above-ground biomass and their potential as carbon sinks was explored in an earlier study which found that hedgerows potentially sequester 0.5–2.7tCO2 /ha/year. The earlier study used light detection and ranging (lidar) scanning to build 3D models of hedgerows to successfully estimate biomass, but at the time the cost–benefit of doing so was poor. However, this has since changed with the availability of free lidar sources and the reduced cost of commissioning/ acquiring lidar data. The purpose of the present study was to examine the use of another active remote sensing tool, imaging radar, to estimate biomass in hedgerows. The study area around Fermoy in County Cork was field surveyed using new drone technology to collect data on a sample of hedgerows from which estimates of biomass could be drawn. These field estimates were used with new high-resolution TerraSAR-X Staring Spotlight (TSX-SS) radar imagery to model hedgerows directly from radar backscatter. The study found that hedgerow biomass cannot be derived directly from radar backscatter. There were a number of reasons for this, such as the hedgerow biomass density, with an average of 10kg/m2 , being above the threshold of saturation for radar in the X-band frequency range. However, other radar sensors with lower frequencies, and thus higher saturation limits, do not have the spatial resolution to map hedgerows. An alternative method of investigating hedgerow structure, and thus inferring biomass, interferometry, is not successful as the level of coherence between the observations in our dataset was too low to build a 3D model (i.e. the backscatter from the hedgerow changed too much between observations). A new method that examines the cross-sectional response of the radar return across a hedgerow was shown to be successful at modelling the relationship between the width of the backscatter profile and the width of the hedgerow. However, this too was sensitive to the orientation of the hedgerow to the sensor. Therefore, this study shows that radar data does not seem to be an appropriate technology for estimating hedgerow properties in Ireland. In order to estimate the national stock of hedgerow, the new Prime2 spatial data storage model (OSI, 2014) was applied in conjunction with developed maps showing the probability of a field boundary being a stone wall or a hedgerow, to give a new national estimate for hedgerow length in Ireland of 689,000km. This estimate is double the frequently quoted figure of 300,000km because of a much wider definition of “hedgerow” used in this report. Net change in hedgerow length was examined using the aerial photographic records from 1995, 2005 and 2015, along with county-level survey records, showing that there has been a net removal of hedgerows between 1995 and 2015 of between 0.16% and 0.3% per annum, although the rate is much slower in the latter half of that period. As X-band radar seems to be inappropriate for hedgerow evaluation (especially for the obvious case of the identification of the complete removal of large hedgerows, for which it is much more expensive and time-consuming than the detection of hedgerow removal using aerial photography), the existing national lidar surveys from the Geological Survey of Ireland were examined for their appropriateness for hedgerow evaluation. A digital canopy model derived from these data successfully estimated heights (mean and maximum) in the trial test site, with an r 2 value of 0.79.
    • Trends and influential factors of high ecological status mobility in Irish Rivers

      O'Donoghue, Cathal; Meng, Yuting; Ryan, Mary; Kilgarriff, Paul; Zhang, Chaosheng; Bragina, Lyubov; Daly, Karen; Environmental Protection Agency (Elsevier BV, 2021-11-10)
      The decline in high ecological water status in rivers is a significant concern in European countries. It is thus important to investigate the factors that cause sites to lose high status in order to undertake measures to protect and restore high status water quality. Analysis of 20 years of water quality data reveals strong mobility between high status and non-high status (especially good status) rivers. Associations between this mobility and socio-economic and physical environmental variables were estimated by multinomial logistic regression at national scale and regional scale. Based on reported changes in water quality status cross across 1990, 2000 and 2010, four classes of the mobility of high status were defined in this study: those sites that maintain high status (maintain), enter high status (enter), fluctuate between high and non-high status (fluctuate) and exit from high status (exit). The national results indicate that agricultural activity as indicated by variables representing intensity of livestock farming (organic nitrogen) and tillage farming (cereal share) and elevation had significant negative impacts on high status rivers. Meanwhile, significant differences in population density and septic tank density between ‘exit’, ‘maintain’, ‘fluctuate’ and ‘enter’ classes indicate that these factors played important roles in the stability of high status rivers. The regional outcomes reveal differential significant pressures across regions. For example, rainfall and elevation had positive impacts on high status rivers in the north-west region, while organic nitrogen had a negative effect in the south-west. This paper demonstrates the challenge in achieving the Water Framework Directive goal of maintaining high status rivers, given the sensitive and highly differentiated nature of areas that have lost high status or fluctuated in and out of high status. This paper also suggests the necessity for localised policies and mitigation measures.
    • Policy Incentives and the Organic Value Chain in Ireland

      O’Donoghue, Cathal; Ryan, Mary; Clavin, Dan; Heery, Declan; Leavy, Elaine; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL ON FOOD SYSTEM DYNAMICS, 2017)
      Merged administration data are utilized to study farms that have converted to organic beef production in Ireland, to draw lessons for future CAP scheme design. Results show the complex structure of organic farms with lower cattle age progression than in non-organic systems, suggesting leakage to conventional agriculture. There is also a flow of animals as they age from poorer land in the West to better Eastern areas that are more suitable for finishing, however the flow is less for organic farms. Additionally, there is less specialisation on organic farms as more animals are finished, so leakage is less than expected.
    • Hobson’s Choice: Finding the right mix of agricultural and environmental policy for Irish agriculture

      Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Lanigan, Gary J. (2021-11-16)
      Abstract As part of its international obligations, Ireland faces emission reduction targets with respect to greenhouse gases (GHG). These reduction targets are to be achieved both in the short term and over the coming decades. Agriculture is a substantial source (33%) of Ireland’s GHG emissions. Whereas the economic welfare of farmers has been the dominant force in shaping agriculture policy for several decades, there has been a notable increase in environmental concerns and a gradual emergence of environmental policies which are relevant to agriculture, particularly in the last 10 years. The future evolution of the agri-food sector in Ireland must therefore be seen in the context of both the economic growth objectives of national agricultural policy, as well as national environmental policy objectives arising from international obligations. In light of the recent proposals with respect to the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 (EC, 2018), environmental objectives will become an increasingly important subset of the CAP objectives and the implementation of the CAP in Ireland. The EU Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) requires that Ireland reduce its non-ETS GHG emission by 20% by 2020 relative to the 2005 level. The reduction target for the non-ETS sector for 2030 is 30%, but incorporates so called flexibility mechanisms designed to make the achievement of this target less onerous. A partial equilibrium model of Irish agriculture is used to explore differing future outcomes in terms of the sector’s size and associated GHG emissions to 2030. The scenario analysis employed demonstrates the implications of different future pathways for bovine (dairy and beef) agriculture, the dominant sector in Irish agriculture and the principal source of its GHG emissions. Mitigation actions are then factored in to provide measures of future levels of emissions inclusive of this mitigation capacity. While technical mitigation actions are largely grounded in interventions that are based on science, the scenario analysis makes clear that the scale of the ultimate challenge in mitigating agricultural GHG emissions will be determined by the overall size of the agriculture sector and the intensity of production per hectare. The dairy and beef sectors in Ireland are noteworthy for their contrasting levels of profitability; dependence on support payments; and farm income. Now that the EU milk quota has been eliminated, from the perspective of economic development, an increase in the size of the dairy sector and entry into the dairy sector are desirable economic policy objectives. However, the paper demonstrates the strong contrast between dairy and beef farms, not just in terms of income but also in terms of intensity of production per hectare and the associated level of emissions produced. It follows that a transition from beef production to dairy production, while desirable from the point of view of farm income, could have adverse consequences for emissions.
    • Diverging Divergences: Examining Variants of Jensen Shannon Divergence for Corpus Comparison Tasks

      Lu, Jinghui; Henchion, Maeve; Mac Namee, Brian; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; 2016053; 12/RC/2289 P2 (2021-11-16)
      Jensen-Shannon divergence (JSD) is a distribution similarity measurement widely used in natural language processing. In corpus comparison tasks, where keywords are extracted to reveal the divergence between different corpora (for example, social media posts from proponents of different views on a political issue), two variants of JSD have emerged in the literature. One of these uses a weighting based on the relative sizes of the corpora being compared. In this paper we argue that this weighting is unnecessary and, in fact, can lead to misleading results. We recommend that this weighted version is not used. We base this recommendation on an analysis of the JSD variants and experiments showing how they impact corpus comparison results as the relative sizes of the corpora being compared change.
    • Does supplementation with leucine-enriched protein alone and in combination with fish-oil-derived n–3 PUFA affect muscle mass, strength, physical performance, and muscle protein synthesis in well-nourished older adults? A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

      Murphy, Caoileann H; Flanagan, Ellen M; De Vito, Giuseppe; Susta, Davide; Mitchelson, Kathleen A J; de Marco Castro, Elena; Senden, Joan M G; Goessens, Joy P B; Mikłosz, Agnieszka; Chabowski, Adrian; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021-04-19)
      Background Leucine-enriched protein (LEU-PRO) and long-chain (LC) n–3 (ω–3) PUFAs have each been proposed to improve muscle mass and function in older adults, whereas their combination may be more effective than either alone. Objective The impact of LEU-PRO supplementation alone and combined with LC n–3 PUFAs on appendicular lean mass, strength, physical performance and myofibrillar protein synthesis (MyoPS) was investigated in older adults at risk of sarcopenia. Methods This 24-wk, 3-arm parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in 107 men and women aged ≥65 y with low muscle mass and/or strength. Twice daily, participants consumed a supplement containing either LEU-PRO (3 g leucine, 10 g protein; n = 38), LEU-PRO plus LC n–3 PUFAs (0.8 g EPA, 1.1 g DHA; LEU-PRO+n–3; n = 38), or an isoenergetic control (CON; n = 31). Appendicular lean mass, handgrip strength, leg strength, physical performance, and circulating metabolic and renal function markers were measured pre-, mid-, and postintervention. Integrated rates of MyoPS were assessed in a subcohort (n = 28). Results Neither LEU-PRO nor LEU-PRO+n–3 supplementation affected appendicular lean mass, handgrip strength, knee extension strength, physical performance or MyoPS. However, isometric knee flexion peak torque (treatment effect: −7.1 Nm; 95% CI: −12.5, −1.8 Nm; P < 0.01) was lower postsupplementation in LEU-PRO+n–3 compared with CON. Serum triacylglycerol and total adiponectin concentrations were lower, and HOMA-IR was higher, in LEU-PRO+n–3 compared with CON postsupplementation (all P < 0.05). Estimated glomerular filtration rate was higher and cystatin c was lower in LEU-PRO and LEU-PRO+n–3 postsupplementation compared with CON (all P < 0.05). Conclusions Contrary to our hypothesis, we did not observe a beneficial effect of LEU-PRO supplementation alone or combined with LC n–3 PUFA supplementation on appendicular lean mass, strength, physical performance or MyoPS in older adults at risk of sarcopenia. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03429491.
    • Measuring total factor productivity on Irish dairy farms: a Fisher index approach using farm-level data

      McCormack, Michele; Thorne, Fiona; Hanrahan, Kevin (Compuscript Ltd.Teagasc, 2020-11-21)
      This paper presents a Fisher index measure of the total factor productivity (TFP) performance of Irish dairy farms over the period 2006–2016 using the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) data. The removal of milk quotas in 2015 has led to an increase of over 30% in dairy cow numbers since 2010, and although suckler cow numbers have dropped slightly, the total number of cows in Ireland reached an all-time high of 2.5 million head in 2016. This large increase adds to the environmental pressures attributed to agricultural output and puts the focus firmly on how efficiently the additional agricultural output associated with higher cow numbers is produced. The primary purpose of this paper is to identify a standardised measure of the TFP performance of Irish dairy farms that can be routinely updated using Teagasc NFS data. We found that relative to 2010 the TFP of Irish dairy farms has increased by almost 18%; however, in one production year 2015, when milk quota was removed, the TFP measure increased by 7% and TFP continued to grow by 2.5% in the production year 2016. It would seem therefore that the removal of the European dairy quota system has resulted in a windfall gain for Irish dairy farmers but that productivity gains are continuing. Future data will be required to investigate the longer-term TFP performance of Irish dairy farms in the post-milk quota era.
    • Policy Incentives as Behavioural Drivers of Beef Enterprises in Ireland: Where are the Kinks?

      McCormack, Michele; O' Donoghue, Cathal (2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182733, European Association of Agricultural Economists., 2014)
      The current structure of agricultural production is still influenced by historical coupled payments, even though it has been eight years since decoupled payments were introduced. Much of the expansion in the Irish cattle herd that occurred during the era of the MacSharry reforms is still visible. In this paper we consider the incentives associated with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) over time in relation to production. Our primary focus is on subsidies that were available to the beef sector, and we investigate the behavioural pressures associated with these incentives. We have developed a Hypothetical microsimulation model using a typical farm, based on plausible values taken from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) 1995. We are investigating if subsidies available to the beef sector in Ireland through the CAP since 1984 resulted in non-linearity in the Direct Payment Schedule faced by cattle farmers, and if so where were these kinks and what were the behavioural pressures associated with these incentives? Identifying non-linearity in the Direct Payment Schedule indicates where incentives occurred. Large kinks are associated with large incentives at that point. We calculated a total payment for each subsidy from 1984 to 2014, and constructed a Direct Payment Schedule that varies by stocking rate. We find that subsidies, and in particular the CAP reform payments of the MacSharry era introduced large discontinuities or kink points in the Direct Payment Schedule of beef farmers, indicating that there were large incentives for farmers to produce at or just before these points.
    • Systems Approach to the Economic Impact of Technical Performance in the Sheep Sector

      Kilcline, Kevin; O' Donoghue, Cathal; Hennessy, Thia; Hynes, Stephen (Agricultural Economics Society, 2015-04-15)
      This paper investigates the structure and characteristics of the full distribution of sheep farms achieving various levels of financial and technical performance. Analysing data from the Irish panel dataset, the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) shows Irish sheep farms exhibit relatively low level of technical performance and that on-farm technical advances have been stagnant over the past 20 years. NFS data files not previously manipulated for research purposes are used to capture monthly animal data flows for the full sample of NFS sheep farms for the 3 year period 2008 – 2010. Utilising this data we identify and analyse key flock performance indicators including reproduction, mortality rates. These “Livestock Demographic” variables are important indicators for estimating and modelling flock dynamics and production, combining two drivers of flock performance: the biological characteristics of the stock on the farm and the farmers’ flock management practices. Results indicate the potential impacts on farm output and gross margins of improved animal performance which is achievable through specific technology adoptions.
    • The challenge of sustainability for Irish Agriculture

      Richards, Karl; Hanrahan, Kevin; Shalloo, Laurence; Ryan, Mary; Finnan, John; Murphy, Pat; Lanigan, Gary (2021-08-04)
      Presentation Overview • Introduction to Johnstown Castle • Ireland’s GHG/NH3 challenge • Scenarios for future emissions (without mitigation) • Mitigation pathways • GHG • NH3 • Water quality challenge • ACP highlights • New Ag. Sustainability Support & Advisory Prog.
    • Comparing economic performance with greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen surplus on Irish Farms

      Lynch, John (2017-04-23)
      The need to reduce the environmental footprint of agricultural production is widely recognised. At the same time, agricultural production must be sufficient to feed the expanding human population. It has been argued that this production can be achieved through sustainable intensification, with efficient intensive farms optimal for both environmental and economic performance. This paper explores this concept by comparing farm financial performance (gross margins per hectare and family farm income per labour unit) with two key environmental metrics, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen surpluses, on Irish farms from the 2015 Teagasc National Farm Survey. Overall, farms with better economic performance tend to have lower emissions per unit agricultural output, and obtain more agricultural output per kg surplus nitrogen applied. However, the intensive production on these economically better performing farms is also associated with greater emissions and nitrogen surpluses per hectare farmed. These results are discussed in the context of current debate surrounding agricultural policy in Ireland, where ambitions to increase agricultural production will be challenged to meet environmental targets, and in relation to wider debates around the best path for sustainable agricultural production.
    • Developing a microsimulation model for farm forestry planting decisions

      Ryan, Mary; O’Donoghue, Cathal (International Microsimulation Association, 2018)
      There is increasing pressure in Europe to convert land from agriculture to forestry which would enable the sequestration of additional carbon, thereby mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas production. However, there is little or no information available on the drivers of the land use change decision from agriculture to forestry at individual farm level, which is complicated by the inter-temporal nature of the decision.This paper describes a static microsimulation approach which provides a better understanding of the life-cycle relativity of forestry and agricultural incomes, using Ireland as a casestudy. The microsimulation methodology allows for the generation of actual and counterfactual forest and agricultural income streams and for other attributes of utility such as long-term wealth and leisure, for the first time. These attributes are then modelled using purpose built forest models and farm microdata from a 30 year longitudinal dataset. The results show the importance of financial drivers but additionally show that wealth and leisure are also important factors in this inter-temporal land use change decision. By facilitating the examination of the distribution of farms across the farming population, the use of a static microsimulation approach allows us to make a considerable contribution to the literature in relation to the underlying drivers of farm afforestation behaviour. In the broader context of Climate Smart Agriculture and the Grand Challenges facing the intensification of agricultural production, these findings have implications for policies that seek to optimize natural resource use.