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Teagasc Signpost Sustainability Week Commences

Teagasc Signpost Sustainability Week Commences

The Teagasc Signpost Sustainability Week kicks off today, Friday, 14th October with a webinar broadcast outlining the first steps for farmers to take to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions on Irish farms.

Farmers are being encouraged to implement the current suite of proven technologies that are available to farmers that will reduce emissions at farm level. Speaking at the event, Teagasc Signpost Training and Development Specialist, Seamus Kearney explains that the first step to reducing emissions is to reduce the reliance on chemical nitrogen (N).  “Reduce the quantity of chemical N being used on the farm. Any chemical N that is being used should be protected urea because it has lower emissions. Replacing CAN and straight urea with protected urea will have an immediate positive impact in reducing emissions.”

Edwin Thompson Dairy Signpost Farmer Shane OHanlon Teagasc Signpost Programme Advisor and Andy ONeill Tipperary Coop
Edwin Thompson, Dairy Signpost Farmer, Shane O’Hanlon, Teagasc Signpost Programme Advisor and Andy O’Neill, Tipperary Co-op.

Signpost dairy farmer, Edwin Thompson, spoke about his experiences of reducing emissions from chemical nitrogen, on his farm near Golden in County Tipperary.  Edwin Thompson, who is a participant in the Teagasc/Tipperary co-op joint programme, has moved away from using CAN and straight urea fertilisers to using only protected urea on his farm. His experiences of using protected urea have been very positive.  It is a win-win for Edwin, good for the environment and good for his pocket. Protected urea is at least 25 per cent cheaper per kg nitrogen than CAN. Edwin has also switched to using low emissions slurry spreading (LESS) equipment, getting his slurry analysed for N, P and K content and applying slurry in Spring when he can get the best use of the nitrogen in the slurry. Edwin has white clover on approximately 30% of his grazing platform. He applies no chemical fertiliser nitrogen on this area from May onwards, taking advantage of the nitrogen fixed by the clover. Speaking at the event, Edwin said he has reduced his chemical fertiliser N use from 180 to 110 kg Nitrogen per hectare from 2021 to 2022, and average annual grass production has been maintained.  He said; “That’s a considerable cost saving without affecting production.”  

Deirdre Hennessy, Senior Research Officer at Teagasc Moorepark, said; “We must now reduce chemical N fertiliser at farm level. Implementing management strategies to ensure that herbage production is not impacted is important for farmers to ensure they have adequate grass supply to feed their livestock. Getting the basics right such as soil testing and following the advice in terms of lime, P and K application is crucial to support grass growth. Measuring farm cover and using information such as the grass growth predictions from the MoSt Grass Growth Model will allow framers to make decisions around fertiliser use based on grass supply and herd demand.  Nitrogen fixed by white clover in our grassland swards can replace about 100 kg chemical N fertiliser per hectare annually.”

The Teagasc Signpost Sustainability Week takes place from 14 – 21 October and consists of a series of face-to-face farm walks, online events, daily articles online and videos to highlight the actions taken at farm level to improve environmental sustainability. The theme of Sustainability Week 2022 is 'Farming for a Better Future'. During the week, a number of farm walks, virtual events and podcasts will take place along with daily articles and videos, published on Teagasc daily and the Teagasc App.

Find out more about Signpost Sustainability Week 2022

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