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Airborne survey assessing the health of Ireland’s soil

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Researchers are taking to the air and to the fields across the south-east this autumn and winter as work on creating a modern geochemical and geophysical map of Ireland gathers pace.

The research work, which is funded by the Department of the Environment, is being carried out on behalf of Geological Survey Ireland as part of the Tellus Survey.

The latest phase of the survey will involve teams of two collecting soil samples across parts of Wicklow, Wexford, Kildare, Carlow, Laois and Kilkenny.

In addition, airborne geophysical surveying, using a low-flying aircraft, will be undertaken in counties Laois, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Waterford, and neighbouring parts of Kildare, Carlow, Offaly and Cork.

Soil samples are collected at 20cm deep and at 50cm deep, with approximately 1kg of soil collected from each depth.

One soil site will typically be sampled every 1,000 acres. There will eventually be over 25,000 soil samples analysed across the country, with 1,000 to be taken from the current study area.

The locations are randomly distributed to ensure the survey collects a representative sample of the general area.

The Tellus Survey aims to provide a detailed picture of the chemical and physical properties of the country’s soil, rocks and water.

The soil samples will be analysed allowing the Geological Survey to create new comprehensive geological maps and to assess the health of the environment, soil nutrients and trace elements.

Regional variations in soil properties that can affect soil fertility and grass yields will be ascertained from the results. The information gathered by the survey will be made freely available to all, via www.tellus.ie.

“Using modern scientific methods, we are able to create a regional scale map of the geochemical make up of Ireland’s near surface, in other words, Ireland’s underlying rock chemistry,” the Geological Survey Ireland stated.

Tellus surveying has been completed in Northern Ireland and the border region. Tellus airborne surveying has been completed in the north midlands, the eastern midlands, the west, the southeast, and across Limerick, north Tipperary and west Cork.

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