Predicting Cobalt deficiency in sheep using soil geochemical data​

Investigator(s): British Geological Survey/Geological Survey of Ireland
Funder: EU INTERREG IVA -funded Tellus Border project/British Geological Survey/Geological Survey of Ireland

This project addresses the ‘information gap’ that exists in translating regional geochemical data into outputs directly useful to the agricultural sector. A number of pressing objectives including Food Harvest 2020 require farmers to increase productivity and this study shows how soil chemistry data could be used to contribute to meeting quality and quantity targets, particularly with regard to micro‐nutrients. Using cobalt as an example, the study applied existing Teagasc soil threshold values for sheep to Tellus soil geochemical maps to identify areas in the border region of Ireland where a cobalt deficiency in sheep is likely to occur. To address problems of uncertainty in communicating mapped results, probabilistic outputs using a verbal and numerical communication scale were developed. Opportunities exist to apply this approach to the prediction of other important micronutrients and to inform farm-level land-management decisions.

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