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- Item100 essential questions for the future of agriculture(Wiley, 2023-04-11) Hu, Yuming; Zhao, Taolan; Guo, Yafang; Wang, Meng; Brachhold, Kerstin; Chu, Chengcai; Hanson, Andrew; Kumar, Sachin; Lin, Rongcheng; Long, Wenjin; Luo, Ming; Feng Ma, Jian; Miao, Yansong; Nie, Shaoping; Sheng, Yu; Shi, Weiming; Whelan, James; Wu, Qingyu; Wu, Ziping; Xie, Wei; Yang, Yinong; Zhao, Chao; Lei, Lei; Zhu, Yong-Guan; Zhang, QifaThe world is at a crossroad when it comes to agriculture. The global population is growing, and the demand for food is increasing, putting a strain on our agricultural resources and practices. To address this challenge, innovative, sustainable, and inclusive approaches to agriculture are urgently required. In this paper, we launched a call for Essential Questions for the Future of Agriculture and identified a priority list of 100 questions. We focus on 10 primary themes: transforming agri-food systems, enhancing resilience of agriculture to climate change, mitigating climate change through agriculture, exploring resources and technologies for breeding, advancing cultivation methods, sustaining healthy agroecosystems, enabling smart and controlled-environment agriculture for food security, promoting health and nutrition-driven agriculture, exploring economic opportunities and addressing social challenges, and integrating one health and modern agriculture. We emphasise the critical importance of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research that integrates both basic and applied sciences and bridges the gaps among various stakeholders for achieving sustainable agriculture. Key points Growing demand and resource limitations pose a critical challenge for agriculture, necessitating innovative and sustainable approaches. The paper identifies 100 priority questions for the future of agriculture, indicating current and future research directions. Sustainable agriculture depends on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research that harmonises basic and applied sciences and fosters collaboration among different stakeholders.
- ItemA research note: A short survey of key silage-making practices on Northern Ireland dairy farms and farmer's perceptions of the factors influencing silage quality(Teagasc, 2022-11-07) Ferris, Conrad; Laidlaw, A.S.; Wylie, A.R.G.Northern Ireland dairy farmers (n = 174) were surveyed to identify key silage-making practices, and factors perceived to influence the quality of grass silage made on their farms. The majority of farmers (65%) harvested grass for silage three times/year: 62% normally used a contractor, while 47% routinely used a silage additive. Delays to mowing and delays to harvesting due to adverse weather or poor ground conditions were perceived to have a large or very large impact on silage quality (68% and 53% of farmers, respectively). Inadequate wilting, poor-quality swards on owned land, on rented land and “contamination” of first-cut grass with autumn or winter growth herbage were all perceived as having a large or very large impact on silage quality (32%, 27%, 40%, 30% of farmers, respectively). Over the previous decade, 11%, 41% and 37% of farmers claimed a small, moderate or large improvement in silage quality, mainly due to earlier cutting of grass and ensiling better quality swards.
- ItemAchieving Sustainable Phosphorus Use in Food Systems through Circularisation(MDPI, 2018-05-30) Withers, Paul J. A.; Doody, Donnacha; Sylvester-Bradley, RogerThe notion of a phosphorus (P) circular economy provides the philosophy, framework, and opportunity to enable food production systems to become more efficient, sustainable, and resilient to a future P scarcity or sudden price shock. Whilst P recovery and recycling are central strategies for closing the P cycle, additional gains in environmental performance of food systems can be obtained by further minimising the amounts of P (a) introduced into the food system by lowering system P demand and (b) lost from the system by utilising legacy P stores in the landscape. This minimisation is an important cascading component of circularisation because it reduces the amounts of P circulating in the system, the amounts of P required to be recycled/recovered and the storage of unused P in the landscape, whilst maintaining agricultural output. The potential for circularisation and minimisation depends on regional differences in these P flow dynamics. We consider incremental and transformative management interventions towards P minimisation within circular economies, and how these might be tempered by the need to deliver a range of ecosystem services. These interventions move away from current production philosophies based on risk-averse, insurance-based farming, and current consumption patterns which have little regard for their environmental impact. We argue that a greater focus on P minimisation and circularisation should catalyse different actors and sectors in the food chain to embrace P sustainability and should empower future research needs to provide the confidence for them to do so without sacrificing future regional food security.
- ItemAddressing Global Ruminant Agricultural Challenges Through Understanding the Rumen Microbiome: Past, Present, and Future(Frontiers Media, 2018-09-25) Huws, Sharon A.; Creevey, Christopher J.; Oyama, Linda B.; Mizrahi, Itzhak; Denman, Stuart E.; Popova, Milka; Muñoz-Tamayo, Rafael; Forano, Evelyne; Waters, Sinead M.; Hess, Matthias; Tapio, Ilma; Smidt, Hauke; Krizsan, Sophie J.; Yáñez-Ruiz, David R.; Belanche, Alejandro; Guan, Leluo; Gruninger, Robert J.; McAllister, Tim A.; Newbold, C. Jamie; Roehe, Rainer; Dewhurst, Richard J.; Snelling, Tim J.; Watson, Mick; Suen, Garret; Hart, Elizabeth H.; Kingston-Smith, Alison H.; Scollan, Nigel D.; do Prado, Rodolpho M.; Pilau, Eduardo J.; Mantovani, Hilario C.; Attwood, Graeme T.; Edwards, Joan E.; McEwan, Neil R.; Morrisson, Steven; Mayorga, Olga L.; Elliott, Christopher; Morgavi, Diego P.The rumen is a complex ecosystem composed of anaerobic bacteria, protozoa, fungi, methanogenic archaea and phages. These microbes interact closely to breakdown plant material that cannot be digested by humans, whilst providing metabolic energy to the host and, in the case of archaea, producing methane. Consequently, ruminants produce meat and milk, which are rich in high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals, and therefore contribute to food security. As the world population is predicted to reach approximately 9.7 billion by 2050, an increase in ruminant production to satisfy global protein demand is necessary, despite limited land availability, and whilst ensuring environmental impact is minimized. Although challenging, these goals can be met, but depend on our understanding of the rumen microbiome. Attempts to manipulate the rumen microbiome to benefit global agricultural challenges have been ongoing for decades with limited success, mostly due to the lack of a detailed understanding of this microbiome and our limited ability to culture most of these microbes outside the rumen. The potential to manipulate the rumen microbiome and meet global livestock challenges through animal breeding and introduction of dietary interventions during early life have recently emerged as promising new technologies. Our inability to phenotype ruminants in a high-throughput manner has also hampered progress, although the recent increase in “omic” data may allow further development of mathematical models and rumen microbial gene biomarkers as proxies. Advances in computational tools, high-throughput sequencing technologies and cultivation-independent “omics” approaches continue to revolutionize our understanding of the rumen microbiome. This will ultimately provide the knowledge framework needed to solve current and future ruminant livestock challenges.
- ItemAltitude influences microbial diversity and herbage fermentation in the rumen of yaks(BMC, 2020-12-04) Fan, Qingshan; Wanapat, Metha; Yan, Tianhai; Hou, FujiangBackground: Rumen microbiota in ruminants are vital for sustaining good rumen ecology, health, and productivity. Currently, limited information is available regarding the response of yaks (Bos grunniens) to fluctuating environments, especially the rumen microbiome. To address this, we investigated the diet, rumen bacterial community, and volatile fatty acids (VFA) of rumen fluid of yaks raised in the great Qinghai-Tibet plateau (QTP) at 2800 (low altitude, L), 3700 (middle altitude, M), and 4700 m (high altitude, H) above sea level. Results: The results showed that despite a partial diet overlap, H yaks harbored higher fibrous fractious contents than the M and L grazing yaks. Bacteria including Christensenellaceae_R-7_group, Ruminococcus_1, Romboutsia, Alloprevotella, Eubacterium coprostanoligenes, Clostridium, Streptococcus, and Treponema were found to be enriched in the rumen of yaks grazing at H. They also showed higher rumen microbial diversity and total VFA concentrations than those shown by yaks at M and L. Principal coordinates analysis (PCoA) on weighted UniFrac distances revealed that the bacterial community structure of rumen differed between the three altitudes. Moreover, Tax4fun metagenome estimation revealed that microbial genes associated with energy requirement and carbohydrate metabolic fate were overexpressed in the rumen microbiota of H yaks. Conclusions: Collectively, our results revealed that H yaks had a stronger herbage fermenting ability via rumen microbial fermentation. Their enhanced ability of utilizing herbage may be partly owing to a microbiota adaptation for more energy requirements in the harsh H environment, such as lower temperature and the risk of hypoxia.
- ItemApplication of metal oxide semiconductor for detection of ammonia emissions from agricultural sources(Elsevier, 2022-11-21) Molleman, Bastiaan; Alessi, Enrico; Krol, Dominika; Morton, Phoebe; Daly, KarenAgricultural emissions of ammonia (NH3) reduce air quality and biodiversity. Measuring the effectiveness of mitigations measures requires rapid monitoring tools, however, conventional methods are labour intensive and costly. This study evaluated the performance of a prototype metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) gas sensor for monitoring NH3. Conventional methods were used to calibrate sensor conductance. The metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) gas sensor was calibrated against NH3 released from a 0.1 M phosphate buffer spiked with ammonium chloride and NH3 released from recently spread cattle slurry. Field measurements using the MOS sensor were compared with values measuring a Bruker Open Path Air Monitoring System. Sensor conductance and NH3 concentration were described using single site Langmuir adsorption model. Field calibrations suggest a higher detection limit above 0.1 ppm and coefficients of determination were 0.93 and 0.89 for sensors 1 and 2, respectively. For prototypes deployed under field conditions, sensitivities of 2.2 and 2.4 with nonlinearity constants of 0.53 and 0.51, were found for sensor 1 and 3 respectively. Average R2 values were 0.88 for sensor 1 and 0.92 for sensor 3. The calibrations were used to calculate NH3 concentrations from slurry emissions using MOS sensor conductance. NH3 concentrations between 0.2 and 1 ppm, were measured with standard deviation of 20% of verified concentrations. The MOS sensor is sensitive enough to detect NH3 emission from agricultural sources with concentrations above 0.2 ppm. Low power and cost of MOS sensors are an advantage over existing techniques.
- ItemAppropriate level of alfalfa hay in diets for rearing Simmental crossbred calves in dryland China(Asian-Australasian Association of Animal Production Societies, 2018-05-24) Kobayashi, Nobuyuki; Hou, Fujiang; Tsunekawa, Atsushi; Chen, Xianjiang; Yan, Tianhai; Ichinohe, ToshiyoObjective: In dryland areas of China, alfalfa hay (AH) is a possible substitute for concentrate feed for beef cattle. To evaluate the potential benefits of this substitution, we studied the effect of the ratio of AH intake to total dry matter (DM) intake on average daily body-weight gain (ADG), dietary energy utilization status, and economic benefit in Gansu province. Methods: In each of two feeding trials in 2016 (trial 1 [T1], July 3 to 17; trial 2 [T2], August 15 to September 23), crossbred male Simmental calves were allocated to low AH (LA), medium AH (MA), and high AH (HA) feeding groups (n = 4 per group). The target ADG was set as 1 kg for both trials. In a one-way-layout design based on conventional feeding practices in the province, calves received diets containing the different AH amounts, with a constant ratio of corn stover:total DM and decreasing rations of concentrate feed proportional to the increase in AH. Calves in T1 received AH at 15% (T1-LA), 23% (T1-MA), or 31% (T1-HA) of their dietary DM allowances; those in T2 received 9% (T2-LA), 24% (T2-MA), or 34% (T2-HA) AH. Results: Among the T1 groups, both ADG and economic benefit were highest in T1-LA; whereas in T2, they were higher in the T2-LA and T2-MA groups than in T2-HA. Energy digestibility did not significantly differ among the groups in either trial. The dietary AH inclusion ratios of 14% in the warm season and 8% to 21% in the cool season appeared to yield optimal ADG, metabolizable energy intake, and economic benefit. Conclusion: Low-level inclusion of AH, ranging from 8% to 21%, is a practical approach for beef cattle feeding. This modified feeding regimen likely will promote increased growth performance during the fattening stage of beef steers in dryland areas of Gansu province, China.
- ItemAre stakeholders ready to transform phosphorus use in food systems? A transdisciplinary study in a livestock intensive system.(Elsevier, 2022-02-12) Martin-Ortega, Julia; Rothwell, Shane A.; Anderson, Aine; Okumah, Murat; Lyon, Christopher; Sherry, Erin; Johnston, Christopher; Withers, Paul J.A.; Doody, DonnachaFood systems worldwide are vulnerable to Phosphorus (P) supply disruptions and price fluctuations. Current P use is also highly inefficient, generating large surpluses and pollution. Global food security and aquatic ecosystems are in jeopardy if transformative action is not taken. This paper pivots from earlier (predominantly conceptual) work to develop and analyse a P transdisciplinary scenario process, assessing stakeholders potential for transformative thinking in P use in the food system. Northern Ireland, a highly livestock-intensive system, was used as case study for illustrating such process. The stakeholder engagement takes a normative stance in that it sets the explicit premise that the food system needs to be transformed and asks stakeholders to engage in a dialogue on how that transformation can be achieved. A Substance Flow Analysis of P flows and stocks was employed to construct visions for alternative futures and stimulate stakeholder discussions on system responses. These were analysed for their transformative potential using a triple-loop social learning framework. For the most part, stakeholder responses remained transitional or incremental, rather than being fundamentally transformative. The process did unveil some deeper levers that could be acted upon to move the system further along the spectrum of transformational change (e.g. changes in food markets, creation of new P markets, destocking, new types of land production and radical land use changes), providing clues of what an aspirational system could look like. Replicated and adapted elsewhere, this process can serve as diagnostics of current stakeholders thinking and potential, as well as for the identification of those deeper levers, opening up avenues to work upon for global scale transformation.
- ItemAssessment of water-limited winter wheat yield potential at spatially contrasting sites in Ireland using a simple growth and development model(Teagasc, 2017-09-19) Lynch, J.P.; Fealy, R.; Doyle, D.; Black, Lisa C.; Spink, J.Although Irish winter wheat yields are among the highest globally, increases in the profitability of this crop are required to maintain its economic viability. However, in order to determine if efforts to further increase Irish wheat yields are likely to be successful, an accurate estimation of the yield potential is required for different regions within Ireland. A winter wheat yield potential model (WWYPM) was developed, which estimates the maximum water-limited yield achievable, within the confines of current genetic resources and technologies, using parameters for winter wheat growth and development observed recently in Ireland and a minor amount of daily meteorological input (maximum and minimum daily temperature, total daily rainfall and total daily incident radiation). The WWYPM is composed of three processes: (i) an estimation of potential green area index, (ii) an estimation of light interception and biomass accumulation and (iii) an estimation of biomass partitioning to grain yield. Model validation indicated that WWYPM estimations of water-limited yield potential (YPw) were significantly related to maximum yields recorded in variety evaluation trials as well as regional average and maximum farm yields, reflecting the model’s sensitivity to alterations in the climatic environment with spatial and seasonal variations. Simulations of YPw for long-term average weather data at 12 sites located at spatially contrasting regions of Ireland indicated that the typical YPw varied between 15.6 and 17.9 t/ha, with a mean of 16.7 t/ha at 15% moisture content. These results indicate that the majority of sites in Ireland have the potential to grow high-yielding crops of winter wheat when the effects of very high rainfall and other stresses such as disease incidence and nutrient deficits are not considered.
- ItemAn association analysis of sow parity, live-weight and back-fat depth as indicators of sow productivity(Cambridge University Press, 2019-03) Lavery, Anna; Lawlor, P. G.; Magowan, Elizabeth; Miller, H. M.; O’Driscoll, K.; Berry, D. P.Understanding how critical sow live-weight and back-fat depth during gestation are in ensuring optimum sow productivity is important. The objective of this study was to quantify the association between sow parity, live-weight and back-fat depth during gestation with subsequent sow reproductive performance. Records of 1058 sows and 13 827 piglets from 10 trials on two research farms between the years 2005 and 2015 were analysed. Sows ranged from parity 1 to 6 with the number of sows per parity distributed as follows: 232, 277, 180, 131, 132 and 106, respectively. Variables that were analysed included total born (TB), born alive (BA), piglet birth weight (BtWT), pre-weaning mortality (PWM), piglet wean weight (WnWT), number of piglets weaned (Wn), wean to service interval (WSI), piglets born alive in subsequent farrowing and sow lactation feed intake. Calculated variables included the within-litter CV in birth weight (LtV), pre-weaning growth rate per litter (PWG), total litter gain (TLG), lactation efficiency and litter size reared after cross-fostering. Data were analysed using linear mixed models accounting for covariance among records. Third and fourth parity sows had more (P<0.05) TB, BA and heavier BtWT compared with gilts and parity 6 sow contemporaries. Parities 2 and 3 sows weaned more (P<0.05) piglets than older sows. These piglets had heavier (P<0.05) birth weights than those from gilt litters. LtV and PWM were greater (P<0.01) in litters born to parity 5 sows than those born to younger sows. Sow live-weight and back-fat depth at service, days 25 and 50 of gestation were not associated with TB, BA, BtWT, LtV, PWG, WnWT or lactation efficiency (P>0.05). Heavier sow live-weight throughout gestation was associated with an increase in PWM (P<0.01) and reduced Wn and lactation feed intake (P<0.05). Deeper back-fat in late gestation was associated with fewer (P<0.05) BA but heavier (P<0.05) BtWT, whereas deeper back-fat depth throughout gestation was associated with reduced (P<0.01) lactation feed intake. Sow back-fat depth was not associated with LtV, PWG, TLG, WSI or piglets born alive in subsequent farrowing (P>0.05). In conclusion, this study showed that sow parity, live-weight and back-fat depth can be used as indicators of reproductive performance. In addition, this study also provides validation for future development of a benchmarking tool to monitor and improve the productivity of modern sow herd.
- ItemAutomated detection and quantification of contact behaviour in pigs using deep learning(Elsevier, 2022-10-22) Alameer, Ali; Buijs, Stephanie; O'Connell, Niamh; Dalton, Luke; Larsen, Mona; Pedersen, Lene; Kyriazakis, IliasChange in the frequency of contact between pigs within a group may be indicative of a change in the physiological or health status of one or more pigs within a group, or indicative of the occurrence of abnormal behaviour, e.g. tail-biting. Here, we developed a novel framework that detects and quantifies the frequency of interaction, i.e., a pig head to another pig rear, between pigs in groups. The method does not require individual pig tracking/identification and uses only inexpensive camera-based data capturing infrastructure. We modified the architecture of well-established deep learning models and further developed a lightweight processing stage that scans over pigs to score said interactions. This included the addition of a detection subnetwork to a selected layer of the base residual network. We first validated the automated system to score the interactions between individual pigs within a group, and determined an average accuracy of 92.65% ± 3.74%, under a variety of settings, e.g., management set-ups and data capturing. We then applied the method to a significant welfare challenge in pigs, that of the detection of tail-biting outbreaks in pigs and quantified the changes that happen in contact behaviour during such an outbreak. Our study shows that the system is able to accurately monitor pig interactions under challenging farming conditions, without the need for additional sensors or a pig tracking stage. The method has a number of potential applications to the field of precision livestock farming of pigs that may transform the industry.
- ItemBehavioural Traits in Bos taurus Cattle, Their Heritability, Potential Genetic Markers, and Associations with Production Traits.(MDPI, 2022-09-28) Titterington, Frances Margaret; Knox, Rachel; Morrison, Steven J.; Shirali, MasoudSimple Summary Cattle have the potential to seriously injure humans and cause damage to property. The risk of cattle reacting in a dangerous manner can be reduced through genetic selection for cattle which have a better temperament. A literature search was undertaken which returned papers which met the criteria of “Bovine”, “Genetics” and “Behaviour” or terms therein. Behavioural traits were grouped and their heritability, genomic associations and correlations with production traits examined. It was found that heritability estimates were more accurate in studies with large populations (n > 1000). Gene associations with behavioural traits were found on all chromosomes except for chromosome 13, with associated SNPs reported on all chromosomes except 5, 13, 17, 18 and 23. Generally, it was found that correlations between behaviour and production traits were low or negligible, suggesting that genetic improvement can be undertaken without negatively affecting production. There was variation between the results of the studies examined, and this underlines that any genetic study is population specific. Thus, to assess the heritability, genetic associations with production and genomic areas of interest for behavioural traits, a large-scale study of the population of interest would be required. Abstract People who work with cattle are at severe risk of serious injury due to the size and strength of the cattle. This risk can be minimised by breeding less dangerous cattle, which have a more favourable reaction to humans. This study provides a systematic review of literature pertaining to cattle genetics relating to behaviour. The review protocol was developed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) framework, with Population, Exposure and Outcome components identified as Bovine, Genetics and Behaviour respectively. Forty-nine studies were identified in the sifting and assigned non-exclusively to groups of heritability (22), genomic associations (13) and production traits related to behaviour (24). Behavioural traits were clustered into the following groups: “temperament, disposition and/ or docility”, “aggression”, “chute score”, “flight speed”, “milking temperament”, “non-restrained methods” and “restrained methods”. Fourteen papers reported high accuracy (Standard Error ≤ 0.05) estimates of heritability, the majority (n = 12) of these studies measured over 1000 animals. The heritability estimates were found to vary between studies. Gene associations with behavioural traits were found on all chromosomes except for chromosome 13, with associated SNPs reported on all chromosomes except 5, 13, 17, 18 and 23. Generally, it was found that correlations between behaviour and production traits were low or negligible. These studies suggest that additive improvement of behavioural traits in cattle is possible and would not negatively impact performance. However, the variation between studies demonstrates that the genetic relationships are population specific. Thus, to assess the heritability, genetic associations with production and genomic areas of interest for behavioural traits, a large-scale study of the population of interest would be required
- ItemBetween- and within-herd variation in blood and milk biomarkers in Holstein cows in early lactation(Elsevier, 2020-12-07) Krogh, M.A.; Hostens, M.; Salavati, M.; Grelet, C.; Sorensen, M.T.; Wathes, D.C.; Ferris, Conrad P.; Marchitelli, C.; Signorelli, F.; Napolitano, F.; Becker, F.; Larsen, T.; Matthews, E.; Carter, F.; Vanlierde, A.; Opsomer, G.; Gengler, N.; Dehareng, F.; Crowe, M.A.; Ingvartsen, K.L.; Foldager, L.Both blood- and milk-based biomarkers have been analysed for decades in research settings, although often only in one herd, and without focus on the variation in the biomarkers that are specifically related to herd or diet. Biomarkers can be used to detect physiological imbalance and disease risk and may have a role in precision livestock farming (PLF). For use in PLF, it is important to quantify normal variation in specific biomarkers and the source of this variation. The objective of this study was to estimate the between- and within-herd variation in a number of blood metabolites (β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), non-esterified fatty acids, glucose and serum IGF-1), milk metabolites (free glucose, glucose-6-phosphate, urea, isocitrate, BHB and uric acid), milk enzymes (lactate dehydrogenase and N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminidase (NAGase)) and composite indicators for metabolic imbalances (Physiological Imbalance-index and energy balance), to help facilitate their adoption within PLF. Blood and milk were sampled from 234 Holstein dairy cows from 6 experimental herds, each in a different European country, and offered a total of 10 different diets. Blood was sampled on 2 occasions at approximately 14 days-in-milk (DIM) and 35 DIM. Milk samples were collected twice weekly (in total 2750 samples) from DIM 1 to 50. Multilevel random regression models were used to estimate the variance components and to calculate the intraclass correlations (ICCs). The ICCs for the milk metabolites, when adjusted for parity and DIM at sampling, demonstrated that between 12% (glucose-6-phosphate) and 46% (urea) of the variation in the metabolites’ levels could be associated with the herd-diet combination. Intraclass Correlations related to the herd-diet combination were generally higher for blood metabolites, from 17% (cholesterol) to approximately 46% (BHB and urea). The high ICCs for urea suggest that this biomarker can be used for monitoring on herd level. The low variance within cow for NAGase indicates that few samples would be needed to describe the status and potentially a general reference value could be used. The low ICC for most of the biomarkers and larger within cow variation emphasises that multiple samples would be needed - most likely on the individual cows - for making the biomarkers useful for monitoring. The majority of biomarkers were influenced by parity and DIM which indicate that these should be accounted for if the biomarker should be used for monitoring.
- ItemBiotic and abiotic predictors of potential N2O emissions from denitrification in Irish grasslands soils: A national-scale field study(Elsevier, 2022-03-21) Deveautour, C.; Rojas-Pinzon, P.A.; Veloso, M.; Rambaud, J.; Duff, A.M.; Wall, D.; Carolan, Rachael; Philippot, L.; Richards, K.G.; O’Flaherty, V.; Brennan, F.Large-scale information regarding nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions is needed as an evidence base to underpin land use policy and mitigation approaches. However, the highly variable rates of denitrification make the prediction of N2O emission demanding. Here, we evaluated the role of abiotic and biotic factors on the potential denitrification of Irish soils, in order to identify the key factors regulating potential N2O emissions at a large scale. To do so, we collected 136 soil samples from 32 sites across Ireland, and characterised the soil physico-chemical properties, the prokaryotic and fungal community composition, the abundance of N-cycling genes and evaluated the soil potential nitrification, denitrification and end product N2O/(N2O + N2). We found large differences in soil potential denitrification between sites (up to 41.5 mg N2O–N kg 1 soil day 1) with most of the emissions released in the form of N2O rather than N2. Soils with highest potential nitrification rates also exhibited the highest potential denitrification rates, and similar parameters were linked to both processes. The factors most predictive of soil potential denitrification were soil physico-chemical properties and the prokaryotic community composition. Soil phosphorus content was as important for predicting potential denitrification as was pH and total nitrogen. Soil microbial community structure, rather than denitrifier abundance, was an important predictor of the potential denitrification and the end-product N2O/(N2O + N2). The prokaryotic community composition was more strongly associated with denitrification rates and the resulting end-products than fungal communities. Increased relative abundance of the prokaryotic phyla Actinobacteriota and Crenarchaeota, were positively correlated to complete denitrification. Altogether, these results lay the foundation for a better understanding of the key factors regulating the potential denitrification in soils and identify important properties that enhance prediction of the potential denitrification at larger scales.
- ItemBlack Border Increases Stomoxys calcitrans Catch on White Sticky Traps(MDPI, 2018-02-02) Murchie, Archie K.; Hall, Carol E.; Gordon, Alan Wesley; Clawson, SamStable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans, is a biting fly that can cause severe irritation to livestock resulting in reduced productivity. The most common method of monitoring S. calcitrans is through the use of sticky traps and many designs have been developed using different colours and materials such as alsynite fibreglass and polypropylene sheeting. Laboratory experiments and some field experimentation have demonstrated that colour contrast can attract S. calcitrans. However, this response has not been fully utilised in trap design. To test that simple colour contrast could increase trap efficacy, white sticky traps were mounted on three differently coloured backgrounds (white, yellow, and black) and positioned at five sites on a mixed livestock farm. White sticky traps on a black background caught significantly more S. calcitrans than the yellow or white backgrounds. An incidental result was that Pollenia sp. were caught in greater numbers on the yellow framed traps. The reasons for S. calcitrans attraction to black–white contrast are most likely due to conspicuousness in the environment although the extent to which flies are using this feature as a host-location cue or a perching site are unknown.
- ItemBlood and faecal biomarkers to assess dietary energy, protein and amino acid efficiency of utilization by growing and finishing pigs.(Springer, 2022-07-04) Camp Montoro, Jordi; Sola-Oriol, David; Muns Vila, Ramon; Gasa, Josep; Llanes, Nuria; Manzanilla, Edgar GarciaBackground: Diet evaluation and optimization is a slow and expensive process and it is not possible to do it at a farm level. This study aimed to use the blood serum metabolite (BSM) and faecal volatile fatty acid (VFA) profles as potential biomarkers to identify changes in protein, amino acid and energy dietary content in growing and fnishing pig diets at farm level. Results: Two studies were conducted. The frst study (S1) included 20 pens of 11 pigs (87.0±4.10 kg; 18 weeks old) assigned to 5 diets: control (C1), high or low crude protein (HP1 and LP1, respectively), and high or low net energy (HE1 and LE1, respectively). The second study (S2) included 28 pens of 11 pigs (41.3±2.60 kg; 12 weeks old) assigned to 7 diets: control (C2), high or low crude protein (HP2 and LP2, respectively), high or low amino acid (HA2 and LA2, respectively), and high or low net energy (HE2 and LE2, respectively). Pigs were followed for 10 (S1) and 20 (S2) days, and blood and faecal samples were collected at 20 (S1) and 14 (S2) weeks of age. Data were analysed using gen‑ eral linear models and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Urea nitrogen showed the best results as a biomarker. Urea nitrogen was higher in pigs fed high protein diets, HP1 (13.6±0.95 mg/dL) and HP2 (11.6±0.61), compared to those fed low protein diets, LP1 (6.0±0.95) and LP2 (5.2±0.61; P<0.001), showing good discrimination ability (Area under the curve (AUC)=98.4 and 100%, respectively). These diferences were not observed between diets LA2 (6.5±0.61) and HA2 (8.7±0.61; P>0.05; AUC=71.9%), which were formulated based on the ideal protein profle but with no excess of protein. Creatinine, triglycerides, branched-chain fatty acids, albumin, propionic acid, and cholesterol showed diferences between at least 2 diets but only in one of the studies. Conclusions: Urea nitrogen showed high accuracy to detect excess of crude protein in growing and fnishing pig diets. Other biomarkers like BCFA showed promising results and need to be further studied.
- ItemBrexit: How Will UK Agriculture Fare?(Wiley, 2018-08-23) Hubbard, Carmen; Davis, John; Feng, Siyi; Harvey, David; Liddon, Anne; Moxey, Andrew; Ojo, Mercy; Patton, Myles; Philippidis, George; Scott, Charles; Shrestha, Shailesh; Wallace, MichaelThere is little doubt that Brexit would have significant implications for UK agriculture, a sector with strong trade links to the EU and strong reliance on CAP income support. This article reports preliminary results from employing a Computable General Equilibrium Model, a Partial Equilibrium Model and Farm Level Models to explore selected trade and domestic policy scenarios post-Brexit. These allow for the estimation of changes in producer prices, production and farm incomes against a baseline scenario of continued EU membership. Under a Free Trade Agreement with the EU, agricultural impacts are relatively modest. By contrast, unilateral removal of import tariffs has significant negative impacts on prices, production and incomes. Adoption of the EU's WTO tariff schedule for all imports favours net importers (e.g. dairy) and harms net exporters (e.g. sheep). Given the strong dependence of most UK farms on direct payments, their removal worsens negative impacts of new trade arrangements and offsets positive impacts. Impacts vary across different types and sizes of farm, but also regionally. However, the period of adjustment to new trade and domestic policy conditions may prove very challenging for a large number of farm businesses.
- ItemBridging Gaps in the Agricultural Phosphorus Cycle from an Animal Husbandry Perspective—The Case of Pigs and Poultry(MDPI, 2018-06-01) Oster, Michael; Reyer, Henry; Ball, M. Elizabeth; Fornara, Dario; McKillen, John; Sorensen, Kristina Ulrich; Poulsen, Hanne Damgaard; Andersson, Kim; Ddiba, Daniel; Rosemarin, Arno; Arata, Linda; Sckokai, Paolo; Magowan, Elizabeth; Wimmers, KlausSince phosphorus (P) is an essential element for life, its usage and application across agricultural production systems requires great attention. Monogastric species such as pigs and poultry can significantly contribute to global food security but these animals remain highly dependent on the supply of mineral inorganic P in their feeds. Pig and poultry, which represent 70% of the global meat production, are also major P excretors and thus represent important sources of environmental P inputs. Balancing the P cycle within farming systems is crucial to achieve P sustainable and resilient livestock production. Therefore, the interconnection of animal feed, livestock farming, manure, and soil/aquatic ecosystems requires multidisciplinary approaches to improve P management. With regard to a sustainable agricultural P cycle, this study addresses aspects of feeding strategies and animal physiology (e.g., phase feeding, P conditioning, liquid feeding, phytase supplementation, genetics), soil agroecosystems (e.g., P cycling, P losses, P gains), reuse and recycling (e.g., manure, slaughter waste), measures of farmers’ economic performance (e.g., bio-economic models), and P governance/policy instruments (e.g., P quota, P tax). To reconcile the economic and ecological sustainability of animal husbandry, the strategic objective of future research will be to provide solutions for a sufficient supply of high-quality animal products from resource-efficient and economically competitive agro-systems which are valued by society and preserve soil and aquatic ecosystems.
- ItemCan metrics of acceleration provide accurate estimates of energy costs of locomotion on uneven terrain? Using domestic sheep (Ovis aries) as an example(BMC, 2022-03-03) Mulvenna, Christina; Marks, Nikki J.; Wilson, Rory P.; Halsey, Lewis G.; Scantlebury, David M.Background: Locomotion is often a necessity for animal survival and can account for a large proportion of an individual’s energy budget. Therefore, determining the energy costs of locomotion is an important part of understanding the interaction between an animal and its environment. Measures of animal acceleration, specifically ‘dynamic body acceleration’ (DBA) has proved to be a useful proxy of the energy cost of locomotion. However, few studies have considered the effects of interacting factors such as the animal’s speed or changes to the terrain slope on the putative acceleration versus energy expenditure relationship and how this may affect the relationship between DBA and energy expenditure. Methods: Here we conducted a methodological study to evaluate the ability of the metric ‘vectorial dynamic body acceleration’, VeDBA, obtained from tri-axial accelerometer data loggers, to act as a proxy for energy expenditure in non-uniform environments. We used indirect calorimetry to measure the oxygen consumption (V̇O2) of domestic sheep (Ovis aries) that were exposed to different ambient temperatures when immobile (resting) and that walked at various speeds (0.8 to 2.9 km h− 1) and slope angles (− 6° to 6°) on a treadmill while simultaneously measuring tri-axial acceleration recorded at 40 Hz by body-mounted tags. Results: The lower critical temperature of sheep was identified as 18 °C, and V̇O2 when they were immobile was 3.67 mL O2 kg− 1 min− 1. There were positive relationships between V̇O2, VeDBA, and speed of walking. However, VeDBA correlated less well with V̇O2 when the terrain slope either inclined or declined. Conclusions: We advocate caution when using DBA metrics for establishing energy use in animals moving over uneven terrain and suggest that each study species or location must be examined on a case-by-case basis. Reliance upon the relationship described between acceleration and energy expenditure on horizontal-surface treadmills can lead to potential under- or over-estimates of energy expenditure when animals walk on uneven or inclined ground.
- ItemThe Case for Long-Term Land Leasing: A Review of the Empirical Literature(MDPI, 2021-03-01) Adenuga, Adewale; Jack, Claire; McCarry, RonanLand, as a factor of production, has a vital role within the agricultural sector compared with other sectors. However, in recent years, land mobility has become a significant issue around the world with increased concentration and competition for land ownership, limiting the overall competitiveness of the agri-food sector and constraining the potential opportunities for new entrant farmers to access land. While land leasing is increasingly being embraced as a common form of land tenure serving as an alternative to the purchase of land for agriculture, the length of lease has been shown to have a significant impact on land productivity and sustainability. In this study, we provide a comprehensive and systematic review exploring the benefits of longer-term land leasing with a particular focus on developed countries and some selected developing countries in the context of commercial farming with more formal arrangements. Specifically, we highlight the barriers to longterm land leasing and identify potential incentives that might be adopted to encourage long-term land leasing for both landowners and farmers who seek to rent land.