Now showing 1 - 10 of 19
  • Publication
    Managing legacy soil phosphorus in grassland soils for agricultural productivity and environmental quality: a review
    Phosphorus (P) is a lithophile element that tends to accumulate in the solid phase at the Earth’s surface and has a low water solubility. As P is a limiting nutrient for plant growth in most terrestrial systems, P in fertilizers has been a major factor underpinning global agricultural production in the 20th and early 21st centuries, including that from grassland. However, P is a costly farm input and it is also a finite mineral resource. Best agronomic practice is to maintain soil P levels at optimum over the medium-to-long term by managing P application and offtake. However, in some cases, soil P levels have been built up in excess of agronomic optimum due to P application driven by organic “waste disposal” or with the intention of building up a “bank” of soil P for future use. This has been associated with P losses to surface waters and impacts on water quality. Legislation, policy and best management practice advice in many countries has attempted to affect these legacy high P soils through a range of measures. In Ireland, for example, the Good Agricultural Practice measures, introduced in 2006 under the Irish Nitrates Action Plan, attempt to impose P deficits on soils with high P. National data shows that P fertilizer use declined by 55% on grassland soils between 2003 and 2008 and would suggest that soils with high soil P levels dropped from 30% in 2007 to 22% in 2011. This paper presents a review of the international literature on legacy excessive P in grassland soils, management practices and policy measures to manage them, and changes in soil P in response to such measures. Consideration is given to both agronomic and environmental concerns. There are a number of factors in grassland production systems, and particularly dairy production systems based on grazed grass, that differ from other agricultural production systems. For example, offtakes are typically lower than in tillage and the recycling of P, either by animal deposition or spreading of manures, gives less control to the farmer. Important questions addressed include: how quickly do grassland soil P levels decline under situations of negative P balance?; what fractions of P control soil P decline?; what grassland management practices are important in determining where and how fast soil P levels decline?; and what scale is appropriate to implement practice change and monitor effects?
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  • Publication
    Multidisciplinary cognitive behavioural therapy pain management programme incorporating Tai Chi exercise for participants with mobility Issues: A feasability evaluation
    There is good quality evidence for multi-disciplinary team, cognitive-behavioural therapy, pain-management programmes (MDT-CBT-PMP's). However, individuals may be unable to participate, due to mobility issues precluding usual exercise treatments and/or 3 weeks of full-day attendances. Tai-Chi Exercises (TCE) can be practiced by almost anyone, and have an emphasis on mindful movement, rather than on exercise.
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  • Publication
    AgriBenchmark: Benchmarking Sustainable Nutrient Management on Irish Farms. EPA Research Report No.274
    (Environmental Protection Agency, 2019-04-18) ; ; ; ;
    AgriBenchmark explored the possibilities for benchmarking of nutrient management performance on Irish farms. Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) data (2008–2015; 1446 farms) was used to characterise and explore the potential for improvement of farm nutrient management performance and resultant aspects of environmental and economic sustainability through the derivation of three key performance indicators.
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  • Publication
    Effects of mitigation measures on phosphorus loss across the transfer continuum from soil to water in a monitored dairy grassland catchment
    In many countries with intensive agriculture, water quality is a major issue and phosphorus (P) loss from soils to water is a major pressure. In Ireland, the EU Nitrates Directive Regulations aim to minimise these losses. This study measured the effects of P source management on P transfer across the nutrient transfer continuum from soils to water and subsequent water quality and agronomic impacts in a dairy-dominated, highly stocked and intensively monitored 7.6 km2 grassland catchment with mostly free draining soils over three years. Monitoring included farm P management, surface soil P concentrations, ground- and stream-water concentrations and stream flow. Reduced P source pressure was indicated by: a) lower farm-gate P balances (2.4 kg ha-1 yr-1), higher P use efficiencies (89%) and lower inorganic fertilizer P use (5.2 kg ha-1 yr-1) relative to previous studies, b) almost no P application during the winter to avoid incidental P transfers, and c) decreased proportions of soils with excessive P concentrations (32% to 24%). Over the same period, milk outputs of 14,585 l ha-1 and gross margins of €3,130 ha-1 indicated that production and profitability remained comparable with the top 10% of dairy farmers nationally. Declines in delayed flow and interflow pathway P concentrations during the winter months indicated some response in P delivery in surface water. However, delayed baseflows in the wetter third year resulted in elevated P concentrations and, overall, there were no clear trends in stream biological quality. This suggests that the impact of policy measures may be felt sooner closer to the source end of the nutrient transfer continuum, in soil P concentrations, for example, and a time lag may occur at the other end in P delivery to streams and stream biological quality, with implications for time frames of policy efficacy and policy monitoring.
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  • Publication
    Benchmarking P and N use efficiency in Irish farm systems to motivate practice change
    (The Organizing Committee of the 8th International Phosphorus Workshop, 2016-09-16) ; ;
    Agriculture faces the challenge of achieving sustainable, profitable production while maintaining environmental quality. In Ireland, for example, ambitious national growth targets for agricultural output have been set but, at the same time, Ireland, like other countries, must meet international environmental obligations in terms of water quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
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  • Publication
    Analysis of N2O emissions and isotopomers to understand nitrogen cycling associated with multispecies grassland swards at a lysimeter scale
    Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a potent greenhouse gas associated with nitrogen fertiliser inputs to agricultural production systems. Minimising N2O emissions is important to improving the efficiency and sustainability of grassland agriculture. Multispecies grassland swards composed of plants from different functional groups (grasses, legumes, herbs) have been considered as a management strategy to achieve this goal.
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  • Publication
    A robust method for the evaluation of prison based sex offender treatment programmes
    (Confénce Permanente Européne de la Probation, 2000-01) ; ; ;
    This paper outlines the approach to evaluating the sex offender treatment programme currently running in the Irish prison system. It begins with an introduction to the scope of the problem of sexual offending as reflected by the extent of the prison population in Ireland who have been convicted of a variety of sexual offences. It then outlines two key points that can be gleaned from several decades of general research on evaluating the effectiveness of psychological treatments while indicating how they have been included in our present research. We also describe the variety of data sources that need to be incorporated into an effective evaluation of prison based sex offender treatment programmes. We conclude with an introduction to some preliminary findings from our on-going research. These finding high-light the return in terms of more reliable information when care is taken in developing a robust method for the evaluation of prison-based sex offender treatment programmes.
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  • Publication
    Establishing national benchmarks of N and P balances and use efficiencies on Irish grassland farms
    Improving grassland agriculture sustainability requires minimising nutrient balance (NB) surpluses and increasing nutrient use efficiencies (NUE). To set targets for improved farm nutrient management, benchmarks were established by farm sector and production intensity using 1,379 nationally representative farms from the Irish National Farm Survey. Annual farm-gate NBs (kg ha-1) and NUEs (%) for nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) were calculated from import/export data from 2008 to 2015, inclusive. Quantile regression analysis and percentile rankings were used to identify benchmark farms with the lowest surpluses per production intensity (kg N or P exported ha-1), highest NUEs and highest gross margins (Euro ha-1). Large differences in NBs between farms of the same sector and production intensity indicate considerable potential for improvements. For example, benchmark dairy farms maximised productivity (median export 55 kg N ha-1), NUE (median 31%) and gross margins (median Euro 2,593 ha-1) whilst keeping surpluses low (median 124 kg N ha-1) via lower fertiliser and concentrate feed imports and higher stocking densities (median 2.1 livestock units ha-1). Using benchmarks as targets to encourage improvements in nutrient management could help farms achieve this potential and assist in achieving national objectives for sustainable agricultural production.
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  • Publication
    Variations in travel time for N loading to groundwaters in four case studies in Ireland: Implications for policy makers and regulators
    (Faculy of Agriculture, UCD, 2009-02-01) ; ; ; ;
    Mitigation measures to protect waterbodies must be implemented by 2012 to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive. The efficacy of these measures will be assessed in 2015. Whilst diffuse N pathways between source and receptor are generally long and complex, EU legislation does not account for differences in hydrological travel time distributions that may result in different water quality response times. The “lag time” between introducing mitigation measures and first improvements in water quality is likely to be different in different catchments; a process that should be considered by policy makers and catchment managers. Many examples of travel time variations have been quoted in the literature but no Irish specific examples are available. Lag times based on initial nutrient breakthrough at four contrasting sites were estimated to a receptor 500 m away from a source. Vertical travel times were estimated using a combination of depth of infiltration calculations based on effective rainfall and subsoil physical parameters and existing hydrological tracer data. Horizontal travel times were estimated using a combination of Darcian linear velocity calculations and existing tracer migration data. Total travel times, assuming no biogeochemical processes, ranged from months to decades between the contrasting sites; the shortest times occurred under thin soil/subsoil on karst limestone and the longest times through thick low permeability soils/subsoils over poorly productive aquifers. Policy makers should consider hydrological lag times when assessing the efficacy of mitigation measures introduced under the Water Framework Directive. This lagtime reflects complete flushing of a particular nutrient from source to receptor. Further research is required to assess the potential mitigation of nitrate through denitrification along the pathway from source to receptor.
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  • Publication
    Phosphorus management, changes in soil P status over time and stream P loss in an intensive dairy catchment
    Phosphorus (P) inputs are vital to maintaining agronomically optimal levels of production in intensive, grazed, grass-based dairy production systems. However, P is a costly input and is also a finite mineral resource and mismanagement of P inputs has been associated with P losses to water and impacts on water quality. This paper presents results from the Agricultural Catchments Programme; an integrated advisory/research programme working with stakeholders to assess the efficacy of Ireland’s Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) measures in meeting the targets of the EU Nitrates and Water Framework Directives. Results are presented for field P sources, management and losses in the stream for a 7.6 km2 catchment dominated by intensive, grazed, grass-based dairy production on well drained soils with permeable geology. Phosphorus management and source pressures were characterised in terms of field-scale P inputs and balances, recorded on-farm, and surface soil P status, assessed by sampling at a resolution of <2 ha across the catchment. Changes in soil P status over time were assessed by re-sampling the same sample areas after three years. Phosphorus loss was characterised in terms of P concentration and loads monitored continuously with high-resolution bank-side analysers at the catchment outlet. Mean fertilizer and manure P field inputs in 2011 were 26.5 kg ha-1 (SD, 27.4). Most P (83 %) applied to grassland was in organic forms (slurry and farmyard manure). Peak P application was in February to May (63 %) with no P applied from late October to mid January. Initially, 30 % of soil samples had excessive P, but this decreased to 25 % over three years. Total stream P loss in 2010-2011 amounted to 0.54 kg ha-1 yr -1, with 62 % of this as reactive P. Results suggest that the GAP measures related to rates and timings of field P application are largely being followed, that soil P status would appear to be responding as intended, and that P losses in stream water are small relative to the quantity applied and, on balance, are likely to decrease over time in response to implementation of the GAP measures. This paper considers further implications for effectiveness of GAP measures, agronomically and environmentally, in intensive, grazed, grass-based dairy production systems, including appropriate scales for implementation and monitoring of GAP measures.
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