The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine funded a desk study to scope a National Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Centre of Excellence on foot of the 2019 National Climate Action Plan.
The Food Wise 2025 and Origin Green initiatives aim to increase agricultural production and value, whilst reducing the carbon footprint and enhancing sustainability. Conversely EU Climate and Energy Framework targets require large reductions (30%) in absolute emissions.
The Marginal Abatement Cost Curve for Irish Agriculture has identified a maximum potential abatement of 3 Mt CO2e yr-1 by 2030. In order to achieve our climate targets, there is an urgent need to mitigate GHG emissions at farm level and this will require improved co-ordination between research, advisory and farmers. There is also a need to refine the emission factors to incorporate GHG reductions into national inventories. While most measures improve efficiency and directly address nitrous oxide and soil carbon, there is an absence of measures to directly de-couple methane emissions from production. Methane comprises two-thirds of agricultural emissions, with the majority of these emissions associated with the enteric fermentation in the rumen of cattle and sheep. While there is a large body of research in terms of reducing methane in confinement systems, there is an urgent need to develop mitigation strategies for reducing enteric methane emissions from grazed livestock systems.
Teagasc are currently undertaking a scoping study to:
- Assess current methane mitigation measures associated with enteric fermentation and manure management,
- Horizon scan for future avenues of GHG mitigation research,
- Compare the approaches of other countries in terms of the co-ordination and funding of agricultural GHG research/outreach and National GHG Centres of Excellence
- Make recommendations in terms of the structure, focus and funding of an Irish Centre of Excellence.
Professor Gary Lanigan (Project Coordinator), Dr Karl Richards, Professor Sinead Waters and Saoirse Cummins (Technologist)