About 12% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions come from chemical fertiliser usage, nitrogen in particular.
Some 40% of nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture come from fertiliser.
The Climate Action Plan outlines similar targets to Ag Climatise, with chemical nitrogen to fall to 350,000t by 2025 and 325,000t by 2030.
Sales of nutrient nitrogen in the 2019/2020 sales year were 379,519t.
Many practices to cut fertiliser cost and improve use efficiency are outlined in Ag Climatise and the Climate Action Plan, including low-emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment, improving soil pH, switching to protected urea and the inclusion of clover in grass swards. There is ample research available for Irish conditions on these practices.
Merchants who fear they will be left with stocks of protected urea as prices rise will not order it and so it is not readily available
Rising fertiliser prices may result in an overall decrease in use and, as prices increase, farmers find it more difficult to purchase products like protected urea. If they are willing to buy, stocks may not be readily available as happened this year. Merchants who fear they will be left with stocks of protected urea as prices rise will not order it and so it is not readily available. This is a major barrier to uptake which needs to be worked on.
Early learnings from research and farmer experience point to persistency issues, some of which could be linked to management or sowing in unsuitable soils
The Climate Action Plan says grass growth will be maintained while reducing chemical nitrogen by using multispecies swards. This practice is in the early stages of research.
There are benefits to multispecies swards and many farmers are switching gradually.
Early learnings from research and farmer experience point to persistency issues, some of which could be linked to management or sowing in unsuitable soils.
These need to be addressed and optimum management practices developed to prevent future uptake from being affected.
In current markets, fertiliser price could be the main driver of change.