• 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.
    • 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.
    • Nitrous Oxide Emissions

      Hyde, Bernard; Ryan, Mary; Hawkins, M.; Connolly, J.; Carton, Owen T. (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 (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).
    • The Farmland Wildlife Survey – raising awareness of wildlife habitats

      Gabbett, Mairead; Finn, John (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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Effect of Agricultural Practices on Nitrate Leaching

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

      Ryan, T. Declan; Holden, Nicholas M.; Carton, Owen T.; Fitzgerald, D.; Murphy, F.; Environmental Protection Agency (Teagasc, 08/07/2008)
      There are almost 150,000 farms in Ireland and these contribute substantial quantities of N and P to inland and coastal waters. Some of these nutrients are carried from wet soils by overland flow and by leaching from dry soils. Farm practice can reduce the loss from farms by judicious management of nutrients. Improvements are required to diminish export of nutrients without impairing operations on the farm. Literature regarding nutrient loss from agriculture was reviewed in this project and maps were prepared to predict best slurry spreading times around Ireland. Two further maps were prepared to show slurry storage requirement on farms.
    • Examination of Production Systems for Mushroom Cultivation in Ireland

      Staunton, L.; Cormican, T.; Grant, Jim (Teagasc, 1998-08-01)
      The plastic bag growing system used in Ireland is very labour intensive requiring considerable manual labour input. This has several very undesirable consequences. It was because of these considerations that it was considered important to examine possible feasible alternatives to plastic bag production for the Irish Mushroom Industry. This project was set up at Kinsealy Research Centre to examine possible alternatives. Part of this consisted of examining commercial systems both at home and abroad.
    • Effect of Peat Grade, Irrigation System and Nutrition on the Production of Nursery Stock in Closed Systems

      Maher, M.J.; Kirkland, C. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      Containerised nursery stock plants in Ireland are almost exclusively produced in peat growing media using controlled release fertilisers and are irrigated by means of overhead spraylines with the drainage water going to waste. Concern about nutrient pollution and the need to use water and nutrients more efficiently may lead in the future to regulations about capturing and re-cycling drainage water. This would particularly apply where nutrients are incorporated in the irrigation as in liquid feeding or where hard water is being acidified to neutralise bicarbonate. These experiments were started to study the performance of nursery stock plants in closed systems and to compare ebb and flood and capillary irrigation with overhead spraylines. A comparison of a liquid feeding regime as against the use of controlled release fertilisers was also included. The use of fractionated peat allows peat substrates with a wide range of physical properties to be prepared by using graded fractions or blends. It was thought desirable to include these in the experiments as there may well be interactions between irrigation systems and substrate properties
    • Extension of the season of production and quality improvement of a range of vegetable crops.

      Murphy, Richard J.; Cullen, William (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The use of modules for propagation together with growing aids such as plastic covers after transplanting has brought forward significantly the start of the harvest season and improved yield and quality of several important brassicas including swede, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. These container grown plants (modules) enables crops to be grown for part of the life cycle under protection in early spring and transplanted outside in March/April when conditions become favourable.
    • Repeated low rate herbicide applications for weed control in scallions.

      Murphy, Richard F.; Marren, Peter (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The main objective of this investigation was to determine if satisfactory weed control in vegetable crops (scallions) could be achieved and overall chemical use reduced by very repeated low dose applications of contact and contact residuals herbicides. The trials showed that scallion crops could tolerate certain post-emergence herbicides better than weed populations earlier in their life cycle provided the first true leaf of the crop had reached 1.5- 2cm in length . Various combinations or cocktails of herbicides of cyanazine, oxyfourfen, ioxynil and gesagard were tested both at Kinsealy and in several commercial locations in Co. Dublin at very low rates varying from 17 to 70g/ha and these were compared with current standard post-emergence recommendation of single rate ioxynil at 0.4-0.7 kg/ha. Each of the cocktail combinations apart from ioxynil and cyanazine produced highly satisfactory weed control when repeated at 7-12day intervals commencing when the first true leaf averaged 2cms long, over a wide range of conditions. The most effective and satisfactory weed control was achieved from either the oxyflourfen (17- 35g/ha) plus cyanazine (35-70g/ha) or the ioxynil(17-35g/ha) plus gesagard (17-35g/ha) combinations. These matched the weed control given by the standard recommended treatment of ioxynil with the advantage of a reduction of up to 50% chemical usage.