Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Signpost General Assembly

The Signpost General Assembly was held on Tuesday, 10 October at Trim Castle in Meath followed by a visit to Teagasc Grange Research Centre at Dunsany, County Meath.

Signpost General Assembly
The Signpost General Assembly was held today, Tuesday, 10 October at Trim Castle in Meath. Speakers pictured from (L to R): Bernard Harris, Department of Agriculture Food & the Marine; Catherine Keena, Stuart Greene, Giulia Bondi and Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc.

Signpost General Assembly

The Signpost programme is a multi-annual campaign to lead climate action by all Irish farmers, and includes over 60 partner organisations and 120 demonstration farmers.  The General Assembly is a meeting of Teagasc, partners to the programme and the 120 Signpost farmers, to review the progress on the programme and plan for future initiatives.

Dr Tom O’Dwyer, Head of the Teagasc Signpost programme, presented an update on the progress of the Signpost farms in adopting the technologies to help Ireland achieve its  Greenhouse Gas reduction targets to 2030 and beyond.  Considerable progress has been made with technology adoption on Signpost farms, with over half of the Nitrogen (N) applied as protected urea in 2022 on dairy farms, with 38% of the N applied as protected urea on cattle farms, compared to 14% and 3% on dairy and cattle farms nationally, respectively. 

All Signpost farmers have started the transition to a lower dependence on fertiliser nitrogen.  In 2022, there was a reduction in fertiliser N usage by 17%, 14%, 21% and 12% for the Signpost dairy, cattle, sheep and tillage farms, respectively.  The reduction in chemical N use has been achieved through a combination of the technologies including liming, better use of slurry using low emission slurry spreading (LESS) and incorporating  clover and  multispecies swards into grazing swards.  Tillage farmers are making better use of legumes such as peas and beans, and organic manures to reduce reliance on chemical nitrogen. 

The key drivers of change in Greenhouse Gas emissions on the Signpost farms were a reduction in chemical N usage combined with increased usage of protected urea, while the increased usage of lime and a slight increase in livestock numbers counterbalanced the reductions achieved.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Speaking at the event, Dr Tom O Dwyer highlighted that these Signpost farms are well ahead of the national average in terms of their adoption of key technologies.  “Teagasc will continue to work with the Signpost demonstration farmers to support them in the adoption of the available technologies”.  

The Signpost General Assembly event also provided an update on the new MACC3 (Marginal Abatement Cost Curve) published earlier this year, along with an insight into policy in the area of GHG emissions from Bernard Harris from the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM).  Extensive soil sampling and biomass estimation work is being carried out on these Signpost farms to help establish carbon sequestration potential of these farms.  There was an update from this work at the event. 

Professor Frank O’Mara, Director of Teagasc, stressed that the big challenge and the purpose of the programme, is to get other farmers to follow the Signpost farmers, and move the national average towards the levels on the Signpost farms.  These results show that farmers can have confidence in the technologies, as their use on the Signpost farms has not negatively affected profitability or productivity.