Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, along with Minister of State Pippa Hackett, have announced that the Department of Agriculture is to invest in two new projects which will support the storing of carbon in Irish soils.

The RePEAT project, which will be supported by the Carbon Tax Fund, will be a modern resurvey of mapped Irish peatlands to assess land use change, greenhouse gas removal and emissions inventories.

The research aims to identify agricultural land use and intensity of land use on former peatlands, which will facilitate better management of these systems and help to mitigate national emissions.

Historical maps

The project will use the Bog Commissioners Maps, which is a survey of over 1m acres of bogs in Ireland between 1810 and 1814, as the basis of its research.

The plan aims to develop a high-quality digital version of the complete series of the Bog Commissioners Maps and other available peat maps in order to facilitate a detailed evaluation and comparison to both the Copernicus programme and recent high-resolution aerial imagery.

This will enable precise identification of agricultural areas on drained, carbon-rich soils.

Accurate peatland maps will be part of the requirements for incorporating reduced management of farmed peatlands into Ireland’s CAP strategic plan.

Soil moisture

The second project will establish the scientific infrastructure required for a National Soil Moisture Monitoring Network.

This project will aim to establish a better scientific understanding of soil moisture dynamics.

Funding will be provided to the National Soil Moisture Monitoring Network, a working group on agro-meteorology, to develop a national soil moisture measurement network.

One of the soil moisture networking stations will be on the Irish Farmers Journal's demonstration farm in Tullamore.


The amount of water held in the soil influences a wide range of soil and plant processes, as well as the soil-atmosphere energy balance.

This affects, the weather, plant growth and nutrient uptake, nutrient and carbon dynamics, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The removal of soil moisture through the draining of peat soils, and the subsequent emission of CO2 as a result, is one example of the effect soil moisture levels can have on soil.

Valuable data

Minister McConologue commented: “These projects will provide hugely valuable data on the moisture content of our soils, the location of carbon-rich soils, and the historical land use change that peatlands have undergone in the last 200 years.

“They will also complement the data which will be collected from the recently announced National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory, the soil sampling and biodiversity studies, and the learnings from the new EIP projects on rewetting farmed peatlands."

Senator Hackett added: “Our soil is one of the most important tools we have to address the climate and biodiversity crisis.

“The way we manage and farm it heavily influences the carbon it can sequester and store."

The two new projects aim to help achieve the Government’s climate objectives, particularly in respect of grasslands on drained organic soils.