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Taking the first step to reducing emissions on your farm

The EPA report released on the 21st July was stark. Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from Agriculture (and other sectors) continues to rise. For 2021, emissions from Agriculture increased by 3% compared to 2020 levels. This is going in the wrong direction, say Siobhán Kavanagh & Karl Richards, Teagasc

We have a national carbon budget for 2021-2025 and from 2026 to 2030. This sets the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted. This budget will be finalised now that government have agreed a 25% reduction target for agriculture.

The longer it takes to reduce emissions the less carbon budget we will have left and thus the larger cuts will be required in the future. 

The target for 2021 was a reduction of 2.2 to 3% in GHG emissions.  The net result is agricultural emissions are 5.2% to 6% higher in 2021 than the target was set for that year. These emissions, in addition to the annual targets, will now need to be reduced over the remaining 9 years to 2030. This will not happen without the rapid adoption of the key technologies available to farmers.

Reducing emissions is every farmer's responsibility

The responsibility for reducing emissions lies with every farmer in the country across all enterprises. 

Dairy, beef, sheep, tillage and pig farmers; big or small; North, South, East or West; good land or bad land, intensive or extensive, everyone has a role to play!

We have a roadmap of existing and emerging technologies that will help us to achieve the target of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

But the focus right now has to be on using the existing technologies that are available to us today. 

We cannot afford to wait for emerging technologies such as feed additives to provide a silver bullet.  There is no silver bullet.  It’s a combination of simple actions that will help reduce emissions on Irish farms.

We are asking all farmers today to identify just one action that they can take to reduce emissions on their farm over the next 3 months.

Can you take just one action to reduce emissions on your farm?

Importantly many of the actions that farmers are being asked to take to reduce emissions will also reduce costs and/or improve profitability. 

From the list below, can you take just one action to reduce emissions on your farm?

  1. Apply protected urea in August to build Autumn grass
  2. Take soil samples
  3. Check out your soil analysis maps to identify fields that need P, K or lime
  4. Apply lime
  5. Apply K on low index soils
  6. Reduce chemical N use
  7. Empty slurry tanks in preparation for Spring
  8. Weigh animals
  9. Book a milk recording