Introducing AgNav - putting climate action planning back in farmers’ hands
AgNav is a new sustainability toolkit being jointly developed by Teagasc, ICBF and Bord Bia - with the support of the Department of Agriculture - that provides farmers with accurate and verifiable data to support decision making on farm to help meet agriculture’s Climate Action
As part of a briefing to Teagasc Signpost Programme partners, the functionality of AgNav – a toolkit of tailored farm sustainability support and solutions for Irish farmers – was explained.
Commenting on the development of AgNav, Dr. Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc Head of Signpost Programme, said: “There was a need to breakdown the overall greenhouse gas emissions of the national agricultural sector to the emissions generated by each individual farm and to do that in a way that required the minimum of effort on the part of the farmer, while allowing the farmer to explore the impact of the adoption of mitigation technologies on their farm’s emissions figures.”
Siobhán Jordan, Teagasc Head of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, said the platform will utilise the collective knowledge of Teagasc, Bord Bia and ICBF to provide data, decision-making support tools and guidance to farmers, which will all be housed in one consolidated online platform.
“It’s about streamlining the collection of existing data and utilising that data to accurately provide the baseline figures, rather than farmers having to input data on a number of occasions to different platforms. Really this platform aggregates it and supports the farmers to use verified data,” she said.
The objectives of AgNav include:
- Encourage and support farmers to implement climate action and sustainability improvement on Irish farms;
- Leverage the most robust inter-agency data, research and resources to drive the most appropriate actions tailored to individual farms;
- Enable the most precise capture and analysis of data allowing accurate calculation of action impact;
- Provide a mechanism to support the quantification of progress towards Climate Action Plan targets for the agri sector;
- Support clear communications on positive progress achieved at farm level – gives control to farmers.
AgNav has been trialled with a number of Teagasc advisors and Signpost demonstration farms in March 2023 through full-day workshops and will be further piloted in the next 12 months through regional workshops. From 2024, it is targeted that 10,000 farmers will be utilising the platform each year.
Jonathan Herron, Teagasc Moorepark, provided an overview of the functionality of AgNav during the webinar, noting that it compromises of three components – Assessment, Forecast and Action Planner.
“The overarching objective is to develop a digital platform that allows farmers to continue to improve productivity, ensure economic viability, while also setting new standards in terms of the environmental sustainability of their farms – putting actions into play so that we strive to achieve the targets that have been set to us,” he explained.
Through the ‘Assess’ feature, farm data is collated from the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme audit to build a picture of the operations on the farm, with data such as fertiliser use, concentrates and manure management strategies captured. Animal specific data – such as performance, numbers and inventory change - is gathered through the ICBF database.
When combined with other on-farm management data, Jonathan explained that it allows for a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the farm to be completed. The LCA, which was developed through years of Teagasc research, is used to calculate greenhouse gas emissions, ammonia emissions and other environmental indicators of the farming system. This will then be used to provide a “starting point” as to where the farm is in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
The second element – ‘Forecast’ – is a live decision support tool, which allows the user to assess the effect of different mitigation strategies at different adoption rates has on their overall greenhouse gases and ammonia emissions.
Once this has been completed, the final step is the Action Planner, through which the farmer and the advisor develops a farm-specific action plan to identify the practices that will make a difference on their farm in terms of environmental performance.
Initially once launched, AgNav will be available to all Irish beef and dairy farmers, regardless of their affiliation with the AgNav partners.
Watch the webinar recording below where a preview of the AgNav platform is provided: