Government Publishes Plan To Tackle Agriculture Emissions

The use of non-protected urea fertilisers, as well as increased use of low emission slurry spreading, are part of the Government’s new plan to cut emissions from the agriculture sector.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, today launched a public consultation on the much anticipated “Ag-Climatise”, a National Climate & Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector to 2030 and Beyond.

Agriculture currently accounts for over 33pc of overall emissions in Ireland.

Agriculture currently accounts for over 33pc of overall emissions in Ireland.

Earlier this year, the Government announced an All-of-Government Climate Action plan that contained an emissions reduction target of 10% to 15% for agriculture.. Today’s announcement details how the Government proposes to make these cuts.

Today’s announcement, a consultation document, proposes a number of ambitious and challenging actions and targets.

According to Minister Creed the agricultural sector will play its part in the transition to a low carbon, climate-resilient economy and society of the future, while also taking advantage of the opportunities that this challenge presents.

“Irish agriculture has become one of the most carbon efficient producers of beef and dairy in Europe and under our Origin Green banner, this is widely recognised, but we can, and need to do even better. I am confident that if farmers, industry and the Department work together, the Agri sector will play a big part in Ireland achieving its climate commitments.”

The structure of the roadmap is composed of three elements:

  1. Implementing Changes Now: Examples of proposed actions include: adoption of low emission slurry spreading equipment and changes in fertiliser type;
  2. Acting in Partnership: To be successful, all stakeholders, from farm to fork, will have to contribute in a spirit of partnership, bearing in mind a the need for a just transition;
  3. Preparing for the Future: using best available science to inform policy development and to help stakeholders make strategic choices for the future.

A consultation process is now open, and the Minister concluded “I would really welcome farmer views in developing this plan. We will listen to farmers and take on board their views as we finalise the roadmap over the coming months. By working together, implementing practical changes on farm, we can secure the family farm for generations to come.’’

Proposed Immediate Changes:

Action 1: Enhance soil fertility and nutrient efficiency to reduce nutrient loss to the environment

  • .Adopt Online nutrient management planning – lime use & fertiliser use efficiency (linked to action 6)
  • Achieve a target of 60% of all slurry spread by low emissions slurry spreading by 2022; 75% by2025; and a longer-term ambition of 90%.
  • Require Slurry/Farm Yard Manure applied to arable land to be incorporated within 12 hours by 2022
  • Require all newly constructed external slurry stores to be covered by 2022 and all recently constructed external slurry stores (i.e. within the last 5 years) by 2025
  • Promote the use of an approved software package as a decision support tool for the majorityof dairy farmers by 2022. Furthermore, promote beef and sheep farmers to use Grass10 as a model for improving grass utilisation.
  • Require incorporation of clover (and mixed species) in all grass reseeds by 2022
  • Develop a blueprint for zero/near-zero nitrogen use and carbon-neutral production suitable to all productivity levels and support its implementation
  • Develop an electronic fertiliser and manure data base to support best practice and evidence of optimum nutrient management and soil fertility

Action 2: Promote the use of protected nitrogen products

▪ Aim to have 50% of CAN sales as protected urea by 2022

.▪ Prohibit the use of urea (replacing with protected urea), in particular on grassland by 2025

▪ Create an information portal on protected N products that will:

(I)Ensure the widespread dissemination of information on the different types of nitrogen protection inhibitors including specifications for their use

(ii) Increase awareness around the use and benefits of protected nitrogen products

Action 3. Develop enhanced dairy and beef breeding programs, that;

(i) increase our rate of genetic gain for key indicators linked to profitability, sustainability and climate efficiency,

(ii) promote greater herd and animal performance recording and (iii) help achieve a reduction in our overall GHGoutput at a national level, by 2025.

▪ Increase rate of national genetic gain in Dairy Economic Breeding Index (EBI) from current€10/cow/year to €15/cow/year, bearing in mind the need to take calf welfare considerations into account

▪ Increase rate of national genetic gain in Dairy Beef Index (DBI) from current €0/calf/year to€5/calf/year to address the current declining beef quality in calves from the dairy herd

▪ Increase rate of national genetic gain in €uro-Star Replacement Index from current€5/cow/year, to €10/cow/year

▪ Increase the number of dairy herds in milk recording from current 50% to 75% and suckler beef herds in beef weight recording from current 30% to 60%, respectively

▪ Increase number of dairy herds in genomic programs from current 1% to 75% and suckler beef herds in genomic programs from current 40% to 75%, respectively

▪ Achieve targeted improvements in key metrics relating to age at slaughter and age at first calving for our national dairy and beef herds

.▪ Incorporate new breeding indexes for climate/environment into EBI, DBI and €uro-StarReplacement Index respectively and ensure alignment of these new breeding indexes,including relevant animal-based support tools, into GHG MACC and Bord Bia Origin Green programs.


Action 4: Develop a charter with animal feed manufacturers on crude protein content of livestock feeding stuffs to minimise ammonia loss

.▪ Reduce levels of crude protein in pig and ruminant feed taking account of the latest science and decision support tools in order to reduce excess protein in animal’s diets.


Action 5: Review the National Forestry programme with the aim of delivering 8,000 ha of newlyplanted forestry, including agroforestry per annum.

▪ Planting of 18.6million trees a year.

Action 6: To deliver the balance of agriculture commitments under carbon sequestration andthrough the better management of peatlands and soils

▪ Target 40,000ha of peat based agricultural soils for reduced management intensity.

▪ Target 450,000 ha with optimised soil pH for soil fertility (linked to action1).

▪ 50% of arable spring production to grow cover crops.


Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Michael Creed

Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Michael Creed

Contribute To Sustainable Energy And Decarbonisation Of Energy System

Action 7: Explore options for supporting sustainable energy with DCCAE on ensuring a fair share for community engagement on the supply side

.Action 8: Collaborate with DCCAE to ensure the enabling framework for microgeneration facilitates opportunities for the agri sector and rural communities to contribute to electricity decarbonisation.

Action 9: Actively participate in the development of a National AD strategy including the consideration of appropriate sustainability criteria for biomass materials.

Action 10: Collaborate with DCCAE and other key stakeholders to set a target for the level of energy to be supplied by indigenous biomethane injection and consider the necessary supports including funding mechanisms

.Action 11: We will double biomass production from forestry by 2030 and ensuring mobilisation for heat production –• Enable increased access into forests to allow for efficient and timely harvest of timber for delivery to the market• Displacing approx. 2 Mt CO2eq in the energy sector.

Action 12: Continue to support actions such as photo-voltaic (PV) panels and energy efficiency measures to generate at least a 20% reduction in energy use in the agriculture sector by 2030.

Action 13: Realise carbon savings from Anaerobic Digestion of up to 0.7Mt CO2 eq per year by2030 and 2 Mt CO2eq per year by 2050.

CAP Reform

Action 14: We will use the reform of the CAP for the period 2021-2027 to help the agri-food sector achieve the maximum possible progress in climate change mitigation and adaptation, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, consistent with commitments at EU level.28

Action 15: We will actively engage with all stakeholders, through the CAP Consultative Committee to consider the most appropriate means of mainstreaming climate action in Ireland’s strategic plan which maximise synergies for nature-based solutions for water protection and biodiversity enhancement.

Liz Bonnin with a fistulated cow at University of California, Davis. The opening cut into the cow’s stomach doesn’t interfere with the cow, but allows scientists to study what goes on inside

Liz Bonnin with a fistulated cow at University of California, Davis. The opening cut into the cow’s stomach doesn’t interfere with the cow, but allows scientists to study what goes on inside


A Greater Role For Producers, Farm Advisors And Processors

Action 17: We will develop an Inclusive advisory strategy maximising the use of latest available decision support tools and metrics on performance to underpin implementation of the GHG and ammonia MACC with a particular focus on building climate resilience in our production systems,improving soil fertility and reduced fertiliser use through more effective nutrient management optimising the use of livestock manure and biological N fixation.

Action 18: We will develop a network of demonstration ‘sign post’ farms to underpin confidence,behavioural change and provide on farm experience of the benefits of embracing climate action.

Action 19: Monitor methane emissions with a view to stabilising methane emissions by 2020.Examine options to help drive innovation in reducing emissions while allowing choice of land use.

Action 20: Promote the engagement with land diversification options and ecological focus area to enhance opportunities from nature-based solutions such as hedgerows farm woodlands and peatlands, to building climate resilience in the landscape and in food system section

Action 21: Further enhance animal health strategies to support climate ambitions and environmental sustainability through promotion of sustainable animal health and welfare practices and enhancing food safety and authenticity.

Action 22: Explore options with stakeholders and land owners for the development of a land use framework which optimises the opportunity for coherent balancing of productivity, climate and ecosystems service objectives of land use.

Action 23: Engage with Teagasc, NESC and other stakeholders to review and analyse the full suite of land diversification options ranging from horticultural production; protein crop production and organic farming to afforestation and agroforestry to consider the alternative economic opportunities that could assist with a just transition to lower emissions land use.30

Action 24: Engage with farmers and communities to address behavioural barriers and ensure a just transition to land use change.

Action 25: Support supply chain development including role of producer organisations where new market opportunities need support – e.g. new business models and supporting development of critical size

Read Here:  Ag-Climatise, a National Climate & Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector to 2030 and Beyond. pdf

(Source – Irish Independent – Indo Farming – Ciaran Moran – 18/11/2019)

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