Research 204: Irish Soil Information System: Soil Property Maps

Authors: Rachel E. Creamer, Iolanda Simo, Lilian O’Sullivan, Brian Reidy, Rogier P.O. Schulte and Reamonn M. Fealy

Summary: This report has synthesised the soil profile descriptions taken as part of the Irish Soil Information System project and developed a range of soil property maps to provide users with generalised descriptions of a range of soil properties which are relevant to soil science research and soil management advice in Ireland. The property maps include; soil texture, soil depth, soil pH, soil bulk density and soil carbon.

Published: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84095-694-8

Pages: 32

Filesize: 2,584KB

Format: pdf

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Identifying Pressures

Ireland, like all other EU Member States, faces the contemporary challenge of meeting a range of agri-environmental objectives in the context of the increasing food production in a post-quota environment. Examples include the need to obtain ‘good quality’ status for all waterbodies, as specified by the Water Framework Directive, the need to protect biodiversity under the Habitat and Birds Directives, the potential for offsetting agricultural GHG emissions through carbon sequestration and the need for sustainable recycling of nutrients under the Nitrates and Sewage Sludge Directives. It has been well documented that the capacity of land to deliver on each of these requirements depends primarily on soil properties and hence soil type. Therefore, meeting all targets simultaneously requires optimisation of the suite of soil functions delivered by each soil.

Informing Policy

ISIS will be an invaluable tool in developing policies on sustainable land management and the agrienvironment.

Practical examples of the utility of the ISIS map for policy and practice include:

(i) The facilitation of a migration from Tier 1 to Tier 3 greenhouse gas reporting to the UNFCCC
(ii) The attribute maps derived from the ISIS maps are being used by DAFM for the new delineation of the Areas of Natural Constraints
(iii) The facilitation of the development of soil-specific nutrient advice (by subgroup)
(iv) The facilitation of the development of targeted and context-specific agri-environmental schemes
(v) The identification of priority areas and more targeted actions in the ongoing development and review of the River Basin District Management Plan.

Developing Solutions

The ISIS team has developed the concept of Functional Land Management to facilitate this approach, and has received an additional €1m funding from DAFM to further explore this concept. This approach will help with local scale farm management decisions, national scale legislation and reporting requirements as outlined above and European scale delivery of data and trends.