Climate change: 'Effective strategy' for farmers if Moneypoint goes biomass
A new report suggests that converting Moneypoint power station to sustainable biomass would be an 'effective strategy' for Irish agriculture to fight climate change.

Converting Moneypoint coal-fired power station to sustainable biomass by converting 8% of Irish agricultural land to energy crops would offer a “more stable income for farmers and forestry”, according to a new report commissioned by the anti-wind group RethinkPylons.

The group commissioned UK-based BW Energy to carry out a report called 'Unlocking Ireland’s biomass potential - converting Moneypoint coal fired power station to sustainable biomass'.

If Moneypoint were to convert, energy crops (especially miscanthus) and residue materials such as straw and grain husks could be used as the main source of ‘‘green energy’’, as well as forestry thinnings, the report suggests.

According to BW Energy, large amounts of grassland suitable for energy crops are underutilised in Ireland and could be converted, with "minimal effect on food or feed production".

In comparing the profitability of growing perennial energy crops to different traditional farming sectors, Teagasc found it to be more economically attractive compared with less profitable beef production.

“In the long term, fixed price contracts for energy crops and forestry offer more stable income than more volatile, traditional sectors,” the report says, and converting the power station to biomass produced by Irish farmers would offer “a credible, economically effective strategy” for Irish agriculture to fight climate change.

According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), two million hectares of Irish agricultural land are suitable for energy crops such as miscanthus or short-rotation crop willow. The SEAI’s suitability mapping tool was then used to estimate that up to 250,000ha of grassland could be converted to energy crops without a significant effect on food or feed production.

Benefits for farmers

In comparing the profitability of growing perennial energy crops to different traditional farming sectors, Teagasc found it to be more economically attractive compared with less profitable beef production.

“A thriving energy crop sector would sustain and diversify rural farm income,” Teagasc said in its 2014 Tillage Sector Development Plan.

Additional advantages of energy crop production over and above higher profitability (compared with beef-rearing) were also identified by Teagasc, including offsetting national greenhouse gas emissions, increased rural employment in the biomass supply chain, reduced dependence on fossil fuels and significant environmental benefits, including increased biodiversity of farmland, reduced flood impact, improved water quality and better sludge management.

Price competitive

The report says that if the Irish sustainable biomass market is to develop at scale, it needs to be price competitive, with potential pellet imports costing around €7.70/GJ (gigajoule) for delivery at Moneypoint.

A study by UCD and Teagasc estimated that energy crop biomass pellets (primarily miscanthus) could be produced and delivered in Ireland for €7/GJ.

Forestry

Other sources of Irish sustainable biomass such as forestry thinnings and other forestry residues could, according to the SEAI, cost as little as €5/GJ based on Teagasc and COFORD trials.

“This would require Irish foresters to adopt established Nordic whole tree harvesting techniques to utilise a larger proportion of the felled timber. This represents a 45% cost reduction compared to the current shortwood harvesting approach used in Ireland,” the report says.

Ireland has the best growing climate for forestry in Europe with substantial scope to expand due to low forest cover, BW energy says.

Read more

Full coverage: general election 2016

Watch: new Agri Aware campaign to air in cinemas and on TV
The ‘Many Hats, One CAP’ advert is set to air on television and in cinemas in the coming weeks, with the campaign highlighting how important investment in agriculture is to the wider Irish economy.

This week, Agri Aware launched its new 'Many Hats, One CAP' TV and cinema advert.

Produced by Traction Marketing, the advert is part of a wider campaign which aims to promote and showcase how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) affects everyday life in Ireland, whether that is subsidies paid to a farmer directly or the countless indirect knock-ons that keep rural Ireland alive.

The launch took place at Movies Dundrum, Dublin, on Thursday evening, where both the full and short versions of the advert where premiered for the first time on screen.

Rural landscape

The ad itself follows a day in the life of a number of characters who make up the rural landscape in Ireland.

From clips of rural entrepreneur and chef Edward Hayden cooking up a storm in his Graiguenamanagh cookery school, to farmer Kevin Moran up before dawn in Galway to milk his dairy herd, it gives viewers a glimpse into the role the agri-food industry plays.

Agriculture is a huge economic multiplier, which keeps rural Ireland alive

At the premiere, there was a panel of guest speakers which included Agri Aware chair Alan Jagoe and three of the stars in the ad; Hayden, Moran and Teagasc researcher Dr Dayle Johnston.

Hosted by Marty Morrissey, the panel reiterated the point that agriculture is a huge economic multiplier, which keeps rural Ireland alive, and the CAP is central to that.

Alan Jagoe spoke of the huge work, time and spend going behind the campaign.

“It costs money to put it out there, but consumers and society need to know where their money is going and who they are supporting.

"There needs to be an understanding and respect for the production costs and efforts that go into food production,” he stressed.

2016 FBD young farmer of the year Kevin Moran made the point that CAP itself “is not just one thing – a subsidy for a farmer - it is much more than that; it’s an investment in food security, an investment in rural economies and this investment is invaluable to rural Ireland”.

'Many Hats, One CAP' is a 12-month public information campaign that will go live across TV, radio, cinema, social media and print over the coming weeks.

Read more

Agri Aware, the CAP and Micheál

'Farmers must tell their story' – new Agri Aware chair

Farmers to lodge appeals over Castleblayney Mart next week
Around 40 of an estimated 100 farmers owed money by a collapsed Co Monaghan auctioneering firm have decided to pursue legal action against the Property Services Regulatory Authority.

Farmers left unpaid by the liquidation of EP Nugent Ltd, the company operating Castleblayney Mart, have decided to launch legal action against the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA).

At a meeting on Thursday, attendees heard that one case against the PSRA failed, but won when it went to appeal.

Claim

Solicitor Paul McCormack told the Irish Farmers Journal that they have agreed to put “in a claim under the property services regulation Act 2011".

"Section 78 part three allows us to bring a claim. One case went forward to the Property Services Regulation Authority and was refused but went through to the property services appeal board and won.”

He says that the basis for the claim is that EP Nugent Ltd was trading “dishonestly” by not having a license.

“There’s 40 individual cases,” McCormack said, adding that the average claim is approximately €1,000.

“Nugent would like to see the farmers paid. There’s no guarantee it will happen. Claims had to be lodged within 12 months of the people finding out there was a problem. The liquidation was 9 April 2018 so we are up tight against the wire.”

McCormack advised that anyone who wants to make a claim should get in touch with his office at Thomas Street, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, or the IFA.

Read more

Unpaid farmers seek legal advice on mart regulator's 'duty of care'

Property Services Regulatory Authority finally learns to use its teeth

Fishermen's case may cover marts debt to farmers

Chlorothalonil ban ‘a hammer blow’ to tillage farmers
The Irish Grain Growers Group has come out against the discontinuation of chlorothalonil.

The discontinuation of chlorothalonil is a hammer blow to Irish tillage farmers, Irish Grain Growers Group chair Bobby Miller has said.

On Friday, the European Commission voted to ban chlorothalonil, a key ingredient in Bravo, which is used by tillage farmers to fight septoria and ramularia.

Cost-efficient product

“The one good thing about Bravo is that it is a cost-efficient product. There will be alternatives available in the future, but will be they be as cost-effective for the farmer and will they be as effective as Bravo,” Miller told the Irish Farmers Journal.

We have to stand back and allow imports of grains from all over the world

He also said that any alternative products will have to be tested in the Irish climate as well.

Miller also hit out at the importation of grain from around the world into Ireland.

“Yet we have to stand back and allow imports of grains from all over the world, with different standards applied, arrive into the country to be fed to livestock.

“We, as tillage farmers, are being made fools of by the EU talking out of both sides of their mouth.

"The Irish grain quality assurance system is a joke when our Irish grain can be mixed with any sort of grain and waste in merchants' and millers' processing plants,” he said.

Read more

Chlorothalonil to be discontinued

Loss of CTL could result in 10% yield loss in barley - BASF conference