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Farm Carbon - Hedgerow Management for Carbon & Biodiversity

Farm Carbon - Hedgerow Management for Carbon & Biodiversity

Lilian O’Sullivan, Gary Lanigan, Daire Ó hUallacháin, Shiva RahimiTana, Mark Ward, Ian Kavanagh, all Teagasc Researchers at Johnstown Castle, together with Kevin Black, Forest Environment Research and Services (FERS), Navan, Co. Meath, bring us details of their Farm Carbon project on Hedgerows here


Hedgerows are linear landscape features composed of shrubs and trees. Landscape features such as hedgerows can play an important role in enhancing carbon sinks.

In Ireland, hedgerows are a prominent part of the agricultural landscape. Research has estimated a hedgerow length of ~689,000 km, representing ~ 4% of the land area (Green et al., 2019). To include hedgerows into national inventory reporting a mechanism to assess carbon stock changes over time is required.

Internationally, few studies have related aerial imagery to ground-truthed biomass measurements and related changes in biomass to hedgerow management.

The Farm Carbon project

In the Farm Carbon project, we took direct measurements to develop relationships between measured hedgerow biomass and 3-D digital elevation model (DEM) data (remotely captured using drones).


  • Relationships between remote and direct measurements were established. The equations generated can be used to assess carbon stock changes of biomass between time steps, required for inventory reporting.
  • Carbon concentration of dry biomass was consistent across all pools (living, dead above and below ground) measured.
  • Mean aboveground and belowground biomass stocks of 58 tC.ha-1 and 10 tC.ha-1 respectively, are similar to studies in other countries.
  • Further research is needed to establish more robust root/shoot ratios for belowground root biomass with management impact requiring further investigation.
  • Irregular less intensively managed hedgerows contained significantly higher amounts of aboveground biomass compared to intensively managed hedgerows.
  • Management regime had a strong effect on carbon stock changes and highlighted a small net emission source for pilot study over the survey period. 

Other resources & online information

Teagasc Website: Farm-Carbon

Email: lilian.osullivan@teagasc.ie 

Twitter: @farm_carbon 

Reference: Green, S., Matin, S., Gharechelou, S., Calkwell, F., Black, K., (2019), BRIAR: Biomass Retrieval in Ireland Using Active Remote Sensing (2014-CCRP-MS.17), Report 305 prepared for the EPA by Teagasc.

See Johnstown Castle Open Day - Technologies for farms of the future 

Check out the hashtag #GrassSoilsTechnology

Hedgerow Week 2022

Friday August 26th to Friday September 2nd marked Hedgerow Week 2022.
The theme for the week was Best Practice Hedge Cutting
Get more information on hedgerow week 2022 here
Get more information on hedges here