There has been a levelling off of agricultural emissions, according to Teagasc research officer Professor Gary Lanigan.
Speaking at a Teagasc Signpost webinar on the new Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC), Prof Lanigan said that he expects the emissions trend for the sector to be “downward now over the next few years”.
He cited strong farmer uptake in low emission slurry spreading (LESS), protected urea, improved dairy EBIs, manure management, clover and multispecies sward use, straw incorporation and cover cropping as some of the ways farmers are turning the ship around.
The Teagasc scientist said that agricultural emissions reduced by 3% in 2022, “driven primarily by a reduction in fertiliser use and more of a stabilisation in animal numbers”.
That said, Prof Lanigan warned that the farm sector needs to be aggressive over the next few years to achieve its carbon budget for 2025 and reach an emissions reduction of 25% by 2030.
Advisory services and farmer education alone will not secure the climate targets laid out, Prof Lanigan argued. For the required farmer adoption to occur, he said that there must be financial incentives from government.
“[We need] far higher levels of adoption than will probably be achieved by advisory and extension services alone.
“If you want to replace urea with 100% protected urea, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what sort of policy would be required there.
“We have been talking to our colleagues in the Department of Agriculture because they’re quite keen to translate the MACC into policy,” he explained.
Prof Lanigan also insisted that it is “vital” that processors and agri-businesses get more involved in supporting farmers reduce emissions.