Summary: Final Report of the ERTDI-funded project 2000-LS-220.127.116.11-M2
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The sources, pathways and impacts of diffuse nutrient losses from agriculture, including nitrate (NO3) leaching, that contribute to eutrophication of water-bodies have been studied internationally for at least three decades. The European Union has introduced legislative controls to address them (EC, 2000 and EEC, 1991). Water quality in Ireland is generally good compared with many other European countries. However, eutrophication remains probably Ireland’s most serious environmental pollution problem (EPA, 2002). While progress is being made in addressing the issues, there remains a significant challenge in achieving the required balance between sustainable production and environmental protection not least because grassland agriculture takes place in an open environment with variable soils and weather that are generally outside the control of the farmer.
In address this challenge, there is a need to develop tools that can link production with N losses to the environment. The Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research was contracted to undertake this study which was to develop its NYCLE empirical modelling approach (Scholefield et al., 1991) that would predict N fluxes from Irish grassland systems and provide outputs of leached, denitrified, volatilised, mineralised and milk N at farm scale.
The steps required to develop NCYCLE_IRL involved a review of the literature and ongoing experiments on N cycling in Irish agroecosystems, the update and creation of new sub-model routines, the creation of a new interface with an object- oriented programming language (DELPHI 5) and the validation of some of the N pathways with Irish data. <...>