Farmers across Ireland should embrace the journey of lowering greenhouse emissions and building carbon stocks on their farms, Professor John Gilliland has said.

In his inaugural lecture as Professor of Practice at Queen’s University Belfast on Tuesday evening, Gilliland delivered an upbeat message to those listening in-person and online.

Throughout his lecture, he drew from his experience on Devenish Nutrition’s demonstration farm in Dowth, Co Meath, and from a research project based on commercial farms in Northern Ireland, known as ARCZero.

“We, as an industry, shouldn’t be scared of this journey. What we have learned at Dowth, and what I have learned in ARCZero, is this journey has given us an awful lot of new data about these farms that we didn’t know. It has empowered us to be better managers,” he said.

He also made the case for reviewing the system of accounting greenhouse gas emissions, known as the national inventory, to better reflect the complex nature of carbon sinks and greenhouse gas emissions on Irish farms.

Gilliland said policies should be developed to adequately incentivise and financially reward farmers for building carbon stocks, through the likes of increasing soil organic matter and growing trees and hedgerows.

“We need a strategic conversation about a policy framework that brings the private sector in with it … Can we get a proper carbon price, not a discounted one, so that farmers will change their behaviour on the back of it?” Gilliland said.

Read more in this week’s Irish Farmers Journal and watch the lecture in full here.