Research impact highlights - Environment
Saving our soil
Michael Gaffney, Dheeraj Rathore, Vincent Michel (Agroscope, Switzerland) and Harm Brinks (DELPHY, The Netherlands)
Soils are declining in health globally due to urban expansion, deforestation, erosion and unsustainable land use and management practices. Healthy soils are the foundation of healthy food production, and soil-borne diseases and plant pathogenic nematodes are major limiting factors in current cropping systems.
Thematic network Best4Soil was established to build a ‘community of practice’ promoting best practices of crop rotations and soil management techniques for maintaining and rejuvenating soil health across Europe. Teagasc and partners created two databases which gathered existing information on crop and soil-borne pathogen interactions. These databases were then used by the University of Wageningen to create a decision support tool (best4soil.eu/database) for crop rotations.
Teagasc was responsible for the data mining of 29 horticultural crops, using existing literature to assess their susceptibility to over 106 soil-borne diseases and nematodes. The database aims to highlight the potential for disease transfer within crop rotations and allows for more robust rotation planning.
This web-based tool is currently available in 22 languages, and the databases are averaging over 500 sessions per month. As familiarity with these tools grows across Europe and dissemination and training continues, this engagement should increase.
Other contributors: Bruno Haeller (Bern University of Applied Sciences), Leendert Molendijk and Paulien Van Asperen (Wageningen UR, The Netherlands), Miguel de Cara (IFAPA, Spain) and Marian Damsgaard Thorsted (SEGES, Denmark).
Funding: European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. Grant number 817696.
The cost of reducing ammonia emissions
Cathal Buckley and Dominika Krol
The need to reduce ammonia emissions is urgent, both in terms of compliance with the EU National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD), and as a principal loss pathway for agricultural nitrogen (N). To address this, a report has been compiled to provide farmers and policymakers with key information on how to best achieve national ammonia emissions targets by 2030.
Based on cost and efficiency criteria, the report outlines the best available techniques to reduce ammonia emissions, as evidenced by scientific peer-reviewed research carried out by Teagasc and associated national and international research partners.
99% Agriculture accounts for over 99% of ammonia emissions in Ireland.
When compared to a future where no mitigation measures are deployed to address emissions, by 2030 the average technical abatement potential was estimated to be approximately 15.26 kt NH3 at a net cost of €10.86 million per annum. However, this net cost is comprised of six measures that are cost negative (-€22.21 million) and seven that are cost positive (€33.07 million).
Amongst the 13 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.
Other contributors: The Teagasc Gaseous Emissions Working Group.
Funding: Teagasc grant-in-aid
Funding: Science Foundation Ireland.