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GIS Monthly Maps 2024

The Teagasc spatial analysis unit use data from a number of sources to assist farming. The sources used include the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, the Central Statistics Office, and Earth observation satellites, and remote sensing technologies. 

In creating the 'Map of the Month' the unit takes the most interesting map produced in each month to present it to a wider audience to promote discussion and debate  on the contribution of spatial analysis to Irish agriculture and food and on the specific maps produced. Maps can be viewed in interactive and pdf format. Read more about map of the month here.

Changes in claimed farming area between 2017 and 2021

May - Changes in claimed farming area between 2017 and 2021

Cartographers:  Dr Jesko Zimmermann

View map here: Changes in claimed farming area between 2017 and 2021

In this month's map we look at the recently published public cut of the LPIS data to show aspects of farming dynamics. 

Farming systems are inherently dynamic, with farmers constantly adapting to internal and external drivers, both long and short term. One manifestation of this dynamic is change in farmed area. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine recently released a public version of the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), a database containing the outlines and cropping information for all fields for which subsidies are claimed. In these maps we are showing changes in the total area claimed by farmers, averaged by EDs, in the years 2017 and 2021. EDs with less than five farms reported where obscured for privacy reasons. The map on the left shows the total range of claimed area in the timeframe (i.e. the difference between the largest and the smallest claimed area). This value gives an indication of the overall dynamics of the farms in an ED. To account for differences in farm size, the area was normalised by size in 2021. The map shows three distinct areas. (1) A North East to South band presents the largest range of sizes between years, representing an area linked to larger farms with more intensive agriculture. (2) A Mid North to South West band generally shows small changes in claimed land, these areas are dominated by less intensive beef farming. (3) The North West shows both large and small changes. Generally, these areas are least intense, however, while commonage areas were removed for the analysis, the area is dominated by large open pastures, so single changes in area claimed can have large impacts on the average change in the ED. The right map shows the direction of change (with any change over 0.1 ha being considered significant). Generally the distribution of increase and decrease is evenly distributed across Ireland. The reason for changes are diverse, but include changes in landownership and rentals, changes in exclusion criteria, temporarily changes in use to non-agricultural, and permanent removal of land from agriculture (e.g. to forestry or built area)


April - Hedgerow carbon of County Kildare

Cartographers:  Dr Stuart Green

View map here: Hedgerow carbon of County Kildare

This month we take an existing national data set and use spatial analysis to add value to it.

The Tailte Éireann National Land Cover Map (2018) digitises the footprint of all the hedgerows in the country. The recent Farm-Carbon Report from the EPA on research work done in Teagasc gives us data on the amount of carbon stored ,per ha, in typical hedgerows. The report breaks down hedgerows into two basic types (once mature)- regular, tightly cut annually and irregular, less tightly cut and “bushier”. The amount of carbon stored per Ha is not too dissimilar but the amount of carbon stored by length is much higher for the irregular.

Importantly the biodiversity value of irregular hedgerows is much higher than regular.

The NLC map doesn’t not distinguish between hedges in this way, so we have developed a way to characterise the hedgerow based on the shape of its footprint. We use spatial analytical methods to breakdown the hedgerow area in the NLC into individual hedgerows and then characterise as irregular and regular. We also label the hedgerow as internal to the farm, external boundary of the farm or a hedgerow shared between two farmers.

In the map we present the map for County Kildare with the total above ground carbon stored in the hedgerows for both types:

and the distribution of types across the three different boundary classes: 


The bar chart shows that “good fences make good neighbours” as large irregualr hedges are 3 times more common than regular hedgerows.


March - Apple Research in Teagasc

Cartographers:  Dr Stuart Green

View map here: Apple Research in Teagasc

In this month’s T-Research magazine, current research into apple breeding is highlighted. Teagasc has a long history in apples and used to have a dedicated Pomology Centre in Waterford. This was a legacy of Teagasc predecessor organisation An Foras Taluntais.

Here we present a scan of a paper soil map of the old centre. The centre was sold in the 1980s but we can see a clip from the RTE archive showing research at the centre focusing on a then new variety; Jonagold.


February - The LUCAS 2022 Land Cover Survey 

Cartographers:  Dr Stuart Green

View map here: The LUCAS 2022 Land Cover Survey

The Land Use/Cover Area frame Survey (LUCAS) is a pan-european ground survey of land cover across the EU. Performed every 3 years it involves surveyors visiting thousands of points across Europe (more than 8000 in Ireland alone). Detailed records (including photographs) are made of land cover, land use and, in a sub-set of points, soil information. Here we simply map landcover at the highest level of detail recorded (the numbers on brackets are the number of points with that land cover recorded out of 8597 points).

January - The Soil Water Index

Cartographers:  Dr Jesko Zimmermann

View map here: The Soil Water Index

The  Copernicus Global Land Service  is a fantastic resource of global earth observation products. It is part of the European Land Monitoring Core Service and provides a range of derived products covering areas of Vegetation, Energy, Water and the Cryosphere but also hot-spot monitoring.

In this map we showcase the Soil Water Index, which is built from radar satellite imagery and provides a good indication of the soil water status, including an estimate of deeper soil layers. 

About Map of the Month

In addition to undertaking geographical analyses and producing maps for research projects, the spatial analysis lab responds to ad hoc requests for contributions.  The latter may be for in-house purposes or to inform policy submissions. While dissemination is a key objective of research projects, maps produced in response to such requests rarely get a wider audience. We’ve decided that we’ll take the most interesting map we have produced in each month and to present it here to hopefully find a wider audience and promote discussion and debate on both the contribution of spatial analysis to Irish agriculture and food and on the specific maps produced.

Whilst this map can be shared please check with us before reproducing it in a publication. Many of the data sets we use are under licence with conditions attached.

For general enquiries contact Stuart Green or the author above for information on this month’s map.