Geological Survey Ireland and Teagasc have announced a €1m research project that aims to provide agri-environmental soil data for Ireland’s agricultural sector.
As part of Geological Survey Ireland’s Tellus Programme, Terra Soil is the first Smart Agriculture research output from Tellus Product Development.
Over a five-year period, the €1m Terra Soil project will bring together Geological Survey Ireland’s geological data and knowledge and Teagasc’s soils and agronomic expertise to provide the agricultural sector with agri-environmental information about Ireland’s soil to better inform the sector, support sustainable agriculture and protect Ireland’s environment.
To do this, the project is tasked with analysing some 10,000 soil samples, for available nutrients, metals and trace elements, and will also predict texture class and particle size.
These new datasets will be combined with Tellus geochemical information and will be mapped regionally to produce data products, giving greater insights into Ireland’s soil fertility, crop and animal health, land drainage, nutrient management and farm economics.
Terra Soil mapped products will be freely available and will describe the quality of Irish soils to inform how this unique resource is managed to improve the sustainability of Irish agriculture.
On the announcement of the Terra Soil launch, Minister of State for Natural Resources Seán Kyne said, “Soil is a critical natural resource which underpins our agri-food sector and this work will enable its improved assessment and management, while also ensuring its potential for sustainable use is maximised within the sector.”
Terra Soil will analyse two Tellus soil sample types, upper soil (5-30cm depth) and deeper soil (35-50cm depth), for a range of agricultural properties relating to soil fertility, crop and animal health, land drainage, nutrient management and farm economics.
Director of Geological Survey Ireland, Koen Verbruggen, said geological data underpins many aspects of our economy, not least agriculture, and this collaboration with Teagasc combines geoscience and agronomic expertise in order to drive maximum value from national-scale geological mapping programmes.
Dr. Frank O’Mara, Director of Research with Teagasc said, “Terra Soil will provide great insights into Ireland’s soil. Our farming community will be better informed to make better decisions, which will hopefully positively impact crop yield, land fertility, the environment and farming costs.”