Research Impact


Agriculture faces the dual challenge of providing food security while at the same time contributing to climate change mitigation. The EU 2020 Climate and Energy Package which requires a 20% cut in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020 poses considerable challenges for the Irish agri-food sector. Although agricultural emissions have shown a downward trend since 1999, agriculture remains the single largest contributor to GHG emissions, accounting for almost a third of total emissions both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The EU targets present specific challenges in terms of:

  1. mitigating GHG emissions and enhancing carbon sinks
  2. verifying and reporting the extent of these mitigation actions
  3. enhancing adoption of these measures by stakeholders


AGRI-I brings together the principal researcher performers on GHG research in Ireland to collaboratively develop mitigation solutions for agriculture. The objectives of the consortium are to:

  • Coordinate and align agricultural GHG research in Ireland in terms of aims and methodologies
  • Build upon and add value to existing knowledge and research data on GHG mitigation strategies
  • Liaise with other national networks and actively contribute to European and global research initiatives, such as the Global Research Alliance (GRA) and the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI)
  • Disseminate the research outputs of AGRI-I to all stakeholders, policy makers and the broader scientific community through multiple media channels

Research activities are centred on five core projects:


This project will generate N2O emission factors for different N sources (calcium ammonium nitrate, urea, cattle urine and dung) across a range of soil types and climates for grassland and spring barley (Ireland’s most common cereal crop). The effectiveness of various N stabilisers (also known as inhibitors) such as Agrotain, DCD and Nutrisphere-N to reduce N2O emissions will also be investigated. Find out more >>>  


The rate of C sequestration in temperate grasslands will be assessed in this project, according to climate, soil and agricultural management practices. Research will focus on changes in the quantity and the quality of soil organic carbon (SOC) and its distribution among labile (easily broken down) and recalcitrant (stabilised) carbon pools. Baseline values of SOC in grassland and arable soils will also be established. Find out more >>>


Experiments in this project will investigate the impact of dietary changes on the rumen of young animals and assess the long-term effects on methane production. Existing and emerging Irish data on enteric CH4 emissions and N utilisation in animals will feed into a global database of ruminant GHG mitigation data. Find out more >>>


This work will explore pathways towards integrated management of agricultural land which uses a “two-pronged approach” of reducing GHG emissions and maximising C storage. An assessment of potential mechanisms and reporting metrics to account for the impacts of integrated land management will also be made. Find out more >>>


Long-term measurement data generated in the nitrous oxide and carbon sequestration projects will be used to constrain process model outputs of GHG emissions and C sequestration. The efficacy of mitigation strategies will be simulated across a range of soil types and extended to a regional scale. Scientific outputs from AGRI-I measurement and modelling activities will be collated, standardised and archived in a dedicated database together with management and activity data. Find out more >>>


In addition to the EU GHG emissions reductions targets, consumer and retail awareness of climate-related issues is driving demand for low-input food production systems. There is also a growing realisation that improved emissions intensity is allied to increased production efficiency, particularly in terms of farm nitrogen flows. The work of the AGRI-I consortium will therefore help to contribute to the competitiveness and sustainability of the agri-food sector. AGRI-I will also deliver significant research impacts:

  • Tier 2 nitrous oxide emission factors that are disaggregated between N sources, soil types and temporally for different times of the year will be generated.
  • The effect of N stabilisers will be quantified for inclusion in the National GHG Inventory.
  • C sequestration in managed grasslands will be quantified across a range of soil types and varying pasture management. This is the first step towards the inclusion of pasture management in GHG inventories.
  • Modelling of emissions and C sinks will allow for a move to Tier 3 emission factors.
  • The short- and long-term responses of rumen microbiome diversity and activity will be profiled and related to enteric methane production.
  • The need for biomarkers for the establishment of methanogenesis in young and adult ruminant species will be addressed.