The Tellus Project in Geological Survey Ireland, which began back in 2011, is marking 50% completion of national soil geochemistry mapping with the release of the latest analytical data. Thousands of soil samples have been collected and analysed and the resulting data and maps are critical to understanding the chemical nature of our soils and supporting the environmental management and agricultural health of our lands.
Koen Verbruggen, Director Geological Survey Ireland, a division of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications commented: “I am delighted to see the Tellus soil sampling survey reach this important milestone of 50% coverage across the country. The data collected will help us further understand our natural soils, which are essential to a healthy, efficient and sustainable agricultural sector. Collaborative work between Geological Survey Ireland, Teagasc and the Environmental Protection Agency will improve the scientific underpinnings of advice and guidance on soil health and crop growth.”
The new data and maps, which are freely available to the public on the Geological Survey Ireland website, show that the soils tell a human story as well as a geological one. Industrialisation has led to elevated levels of mercury, lead, and copper around cities. The burning of fossil fuels has resulted in high levels of the element tin in the soils around cities and towns.
The maps also show the impact of farming, with evidence of improved soil fertility through the application of phosphorus and other fertilizer components. The new data can also highlight areas which are deficient in certain nutrients or elements important for crop growth or animal health.
The data show the factors contributing to soil formation and quality including regional climate and bedrock composition. The maps also show organic matter content in soils, helping our understanding of soil carbon sequestration in Ireland, a key climate mitigation objective.
The new data can also be used to support mineral exploration as the presence of elements such as arsenic, antimony, cadmium, lead and zinc in the soil show known and potential mineral resources.
Having detailed scientific information regarding the soils of Ireland allows decisions regarding its use and protection to be made with greater confidence.
Source – www.gsi.ie/tellus.