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Dunleer

Location: Phillipstown, Dunleer, Co  Louth
Size:  940 ha 
Farming:  Winter wheat, potatoes, dairying and beef production
Soils:  Poorly drained - P is the main nutrient at risk of loss through overland flow
Rainfall:  913 mm per year 
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Agricultural Catchments Programme: Dunleer, County Louth


The Dunleer catchment  is just over 948 ha in area and in a typical year half of the land is in grass with a third in tillage. The balance of the land is in woodland and other uses. Winter wheat is the main tillage enterprise in the catchment but with considerable areas of other crops such as winter and spring barley, oil seed rape and potatoes. A substantial area of the land is rented on the 11-month conacre rental system and much of the tillage, especially potato production, is carried out on this land. The use of the conacre system means that management responsibility of a significant proportion of the land changes from one farmer to another from year to year making the collection of farm management records more of a challenge. The grassland area of the catchment is mainly used for dairying and beef production with some sheep, goat-dairying and horses.

In this catchment the influence of past glacial movement is apparent with its undulating landscape dissected by ditches and streams and many different deep soil types derived from glacial drift underlain by greywacke, mudstone and limestone geology. The dominant soils in this catchment are typical and stagnic luvisols. In the better drained areas on the head slopes well drained luvisols belonging to the Dunboyne soil series dominate, however, these are often interspersed by smaller areas of brown earths. On the hill slope and foot slope areas, stagnic luvisols belonging to the Fethard soil series, are more prevalent.

These soils exhibit impeded subsoil drainage. In many of these soils, artificial drainage has improved water flow making them suitable for both grass and crop production. Pockets of gleyic brown alluvial soils adjoin the stream in the valley, 70% of the catchment is classified as poorly drained and so phosphorus is considered the main nutrient at risk of loss from this site through overland flow. There is a much smaller risk of nitrogen loss through leaching on the more freely drained soils mainly in the east of the catchment.

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