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Teagasc and Bord Bia launching new 'Beef Carbon Navigator' 

Teagasc and Bord Bia are launching the ‘Beef Carbon Navigator’, a farm management tool, at this week’s National Ploughing Championships. Using the Carbon Navigator will allow farmers set improvement targets in key practical management areas and see the results on their cattle enterprise in terms of environmental and economic performance.

The Carbon Navigator marks the next stage of the Beef Sustainability programme that has been developed jointly by Teagasc and Bord Bia. To-date, almost 28,000 Quality Assured farms have provided farm enterprise information that allows the environmental performance of their farms to be assessed. Now the programme focuses on providing practical advice to farmers on the steps they can take to improve their environmental performance through enhanced farm efficiency.

The Carbon Navigator uses current performance, as assessed at the Quality Assurance audit and allows individual farmers to set future targets and make comparisons with average and best performing farmers. The ‘distance to target’ approach is designed to help achieve practice adoption and efficiency targets over a three-year period.

Pat Murphy, Head of Environment Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc stressed that “Reducing agricultural greenhouse gases (GHGs) is a major challenge facing Irish agriculture in the foreseeable future. GHG research has been the most rapidly growing component of the Teagasc research programme in the last five years. Considerable advances have been made in our understanding of the sources of agricultural GHGs and of the potential effectiveness of mitigation strategies. However, if farmers are to adopt these strategies, it is vital that tools and decision-support systems are developed to disseminate this knowledge. The Teagasc, Bord Bia partnership in developing the Carbon Navigator suite of programmes is important for the agri-food industry.”

The Navigator, which is available on Bord Bia's Quality Assurance database, utilises the technical expertise of Teagasc on how to implement farming practices that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It will be rolled out to farmers firstly through the Teagasc Advisory team and in time, will be available online to farmers directly.
Padraig Brennan, Senior Business Analyst with Bord Bia said that “Customers of Irish beef are increasingly looking to their suppliers to help them achieve their sustainability targets. This means they are looking to those that can demonstrate their sustainability credentials and develop initiatives that further enhance their performance over time. The development of the Carbon Navigator marks an important step in helping the Irish beef industry maintain and enhance its green image and capitalise on the potential for improving returns from the marketplace. This initiative contributes to Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme and will help to demonstrate to our global customers that Irish agriculture and food is produced sustainably. ”

Teagasc researchers are now working on a Dairy Carbon Navigator which is planned to be introduced in collaboration with Bord Bia in 2013.