Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

World Soil Day

World Soil Day is marked on 5 December each year as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to promote sustainable soil management. The theme for World Soil Day 2020 (#WorldSoilDay) is "Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity" emphasising the critical importance of the hidden life underneath our feet in underpinning healthy ecosystems and food production, and how the protection of soil biodiversity is vital in delivering a wide range of essential ecosystem services. 

Teagasc has a long history of soils research and is currently working at the cutting edge of soils research in association with national and international collaborators. Its current programme focuses on the chemical, physical and biological health of agricultural soils and the development of sustainable soil management advice that enhances soil functions including soil biodiversity, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, productivity, and water purification and storage.

Click on the areas listed below to find out more about some of the work being carried out within the Soil Programme in Teagasc.

Soil health is our wealth

  • Soil Health is our Wealth - Teagasc Johnstown Castle

    Soils are diverse and multifunctional living ecosystems, underpinning most of our food and fibre production, but also other critical natural services for society. This video gives an insight into soils and their impact on society.

  • Soil health is our wealth

    Did you know that soils are the basis of all the food you eat? In this video Karl Richards gives us an insight into the soils research that has been taking place in Johnstown Castle over the years.

  • Soils (and their functions) impact Societies

    History is full of examples of humans benefitting from healthy soils, but also how soil degradation can lead to dire consequences. Luis Lopez-Sangil introduces us to the importance of the main soil functions for human wellbeing.

  • Water regulation

    Did you ever think that the water we drink has been filtered through soils? Ognjen Zurovec guides us through the mechanisms involved, giving graphic examples of the relation between soil and water

  • How do we manage our soils?

    Soils are diverse, and each soil type has a different ability to carry out each of the functions above. Lilian O’Sullivan shows us the effort put by researchers at Teagasc Johnstown Castle to develop information and management tools.

  • Soil Insights

    This video introduces the concept of soil quality and its importance not only for its productive capacity but also for the provision of critical ecosystem services.

  • 10 things to know about... Soil

    Presenter Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin meets Sara Vero and David Wall at Teagasc’s Soil Research Centre in Wexford to find out about some of the 213 different types of soil we have here in Ireland.


Biological health and soil biodiversity

  • Safeguarding your soil biology 
    There is increasing awareness of the importance of soil biology in underpinning agriculture. The life beneath our feet is critical to the sustainability, resilience and functioning of our farming systems. Researcher, Fiona Brennan, talks about the important role played by the life within soil and provides some tips for safeguarding soil biology on your farm.
  • Soil Health Series: The living soil - the engine of soil processes 
    Our soils are teeming with life. This life underpins the majority of processes within soil and is critical for delivering a whole range of vital ecosystem functions. Researcher Fiona Brennan, Johnstown Castle, talks about the organisms living within soil and how we assess soil biological health.
  • Good news for earthworm numbers in grazed pastures - the role of dung pats  
    Grazed grassland management regimes can have various positive and negative effects on soil fauna such as earthworms. Teagasc Johnstown Castle and UCD researchers Owen Fenton, Giulia Bondi and Olaf Schmidt tell us more.
  • Biodiversity

    There are literally billions of soil microorganisms in a handful of healthy soil. Aoife Duff and colleagues show us different techniques soil scientists use for identifying good (and bad) microorganisms in soils.

  • Meritxell Grau - Walsh Scholar

    Meritxell’s PhD project is examining the effect soil pH and phosphorus has on the microbial communities emitting nitrous oxide (N2O).

  • Emily Masters Clark - Walsh Scholar

    Emily’s project is defining interactions between beneficial soil microbes with the aim is to exploit these interactions to create inoculants that will enhance crop growth and reduce dependency on fertiliser.

  • World Microbiome Day

    This video gives an insight into the research the Soil and Environmental Microbiology Research Group are doing on how the soil microbiome affects ecosystem functioning.


Chemical soil health and Carbon sequestration

  • How Soil Organic Carbon Cycling works in Irish Soils - Teagasc Research Insights Webinar
    The third webinar in the Teagasc Research Insights Series focused on how soil organic carbon cycling works in Irish soils. Teagasc Researchers give an insight into their research and an overview of organic carbon cycling in Irish soils and its contribution to mitigating climate change.
  • The Signpost Series Webinar - Carbon Sequestration in Grassland
    In this edition of Sustainable Agriculture Webinars, host Pat Murphy, Head of Environment KT, Teagasc was joined by Donal O'Brien, Teagasc Researcher to discuss Carbon Sequestration in Grassland. 
  • Enhancing soil carbon sequestration to contribute to carbon neutrality on Irish farms
    Carbon stored in soils is often called soil organic carbon and it is good for soils. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and storing it in plant material or soil. Researchers Donal O’Brien and Gary Lanigan have more information.
  • Soil Health Series: Soil Chemical Quality Indicators
    Soil health emphasises the soil biological community as a key driver of soils capacity to deliver multiple functions. Researcher Karen Daly tells us about chemical indicators that can be used to assess the health of our soils.
  • Soil Organic Matter- enhancing soil health and soil nutrient supply
    Soil organic matter is a vital component of soil health. Researchers at Teagasc Johnstown Castle, Sorcha Kelly, Fiona Brennan and David Wall are investigating the role of soil organic matter in enhancing soil functioning and in soil nutrient supply.
  • The Importance of Soil Fertility
    The maintenance and improvement of soil fertility is essential to maximise grass growth on your farm. The pH status of a soil plays a hugely important role as nutrients may only become available to the grass plant at certain pH levels. Ronan Mulligan, Teagasc Walsh Scholar, Claremorris tells us more.
  • We are all fed from soil
    A Day in the Life: Guylain Grange, a Teagasc Walsh Scholar PhD candidate at Teagasc Environment Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford, talks about how plant biodiversity can help improve our soils.
  • Soil Sampling

    Mark Plunkett & Declan McArdle, Teagasc discuss the importance of taking a soil sample and how this information should be utilised with regards to the soil fertility programme.

  • Phosphorus Build Up for Grassland Farms

    Additional P is now permitted to be applied on index 1 and index 2 P soils on grassland farms stocked above 130kg organic N/ha. This video outlines the benefits and how farmers can avail of the additional P allowances.

  • Understanding Carbon Sequestration

    What is carbon sequestration? Professor Gary Lanigan gives us the run down to what carbon sequestration is and how by increasing carbon sequestration, farmers can increase their soil organic matter levels and help to slow the negative impacts of climate change on their farms.

  • 5 Steps to Enhancing Carbon Sequestration

    One of the main management practices to increase carbon sequestration and soil organic matter build up on farms is to optimise soil fertility. David Wall runs through 5 steps to enhancing carbon sequestration on your farm.

  • Locking up carbon in our soils

    James Rambaud, a Research Technician at Teagasc Environment Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, on carbon sequestration. Have you ever seen what effect having too much CO2 has on our atmosphere? Here we have a small experiment that you can try at home which demonstrates the effect.

  • Nutri2Cycle Programme

    This EU research programme is looking at a number of bio based organic fertilisers and their role in supplying valuable N, P, K & S for tillage crops. This trial is being conducted on Sylvester Bourke’s farm, Arklow Co. Wicklow.


Physical soil health

  • The Soil Structure A B C - A practical guide to managing soil structure
    This handbook aims to: Describe what soil structure is and why it is so important; show how to evaluate soil structure in the field; and give recommendations on how to manage soil structure.
  • Visual Soil Examination and Evaluation (VSEE)
    Visual Soil Examination and Evaluation (VSEE) techniques are procedures for visually and tactilely evaluating soil structure. Techniques have been designed to examine both the topsoil and subsoil, focusing on the impact of management on soil structural quality.
  • Soil Health Series: Soil Physical Quality Indicators
    Soil health is described as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals & humans. Researchers investigated different types of soil physical indicators. Teagasc Researchers Owen Fenton, Dermot Forristal & Giulia Bondi give more information.
  • Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS)

    VESS is an example of a VSEE technique and is one of the quickest methods to conduct. This video gives an overview of how to apply the VESS method.

  • Soil Cultivation Systems

    Dermot Forristal from Oak Park, Carlow explains the impact cultivation has on soil. Dermot looks at options of systems that might be less intensive and more sustainable such as non-inversion systems.

  • Describing Soils - What's under your feet?

    Giulia Bondi is a Research Officer at Teagasc Johnstown Castle and works mainly on soil quality and soil health. Giulia gives an overview of a profile pit which has evidence of compaction and poor drainage.