There are many options for farmers to increase the rate and consistency of carbon sequestration in soil, according to Devenish.
Devenish CEO Richard Kennedy said forestry and agriculture are "the only two industries" that have the ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere biologically.
“Carbon sequestration and storage in agriculture has the potential to give Ireland’s food and farming sector a significant competitive advantage in the global marketplace.”
The food production research, development and innovation company CEO made his comments in a presentation on carbon sequestration to the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday.
Also speaking at the committee meeting, Teagasc head of crops, environment and land use programme John Spink said there is “considerable scope” to both reduce land and forestry emissions and also to enhance carbon sinks.
He said the rate of afforestation “will have to increase significantly” if Ireland is to achieve long-term net climate neutrality.
He also described how reducing the emissions from grassland on peat soils will be imperative for land and forestry mitigation as this is the “largest sectoral greenhouse gas source”.
Spink reported that research projects on reducing inputs and raising the water table are currently commencing in Teagasc, as well as alternative uses for areas that are re-wetted.
Carbon removal offers the potential for “a new income opportunity for farmers”, according to Department of Agriculture chief inspector Bill Callanan.
Callanan outlined the existing department incentives for farmers to engage in actions that can lead to greenhouse gas reduction including measures for afforestation, organic farming and GLAS.
However, he said there is work to be done on developing carbon farming or trading schemes which will benefit farm incomes and rural Ireland.
He said pilots and business models are evolving across Europe, including peatland restoration management of carbon in soils, forestry and agroforestry activities.
Callanan noted that “certification and regulation structures are also emerging” at an EU level and that this will inform the rollout and approach in Ireland.