Over €1.2m has been committed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to four research projects which deal with agriculture, food production and climate change.
The land-use, food and farming-related research initiatives are among 42 projects which will share in a €10.7m bursary from the EPA.
David Styles of University of Galway is the lead researcher in a project which aims to model how the diversification of between 500,000ha and 1m hectares of land out of livestock production will impact the environment and the economic sustainability of farms.
The project will generate models based on key indicators of land-use sustainability across air emissions (greenhouse gases (GHGs) and ammonia), nutrient losses to water bodies and economic outcomes at farm level.
It is intended that the project will generate new evidence on what it describes as sustainable ‘landing zones’ for Ireland's land sector.
A project led by Thomas Curran of UCD will assess the impact of ammonia emissions from traditional farming practices on sensitive natura 2000 sites.
The research work aims to develop a suite of monitoring approaches and examine if these could be linked to a national programme as part of local environmental assessments.
This medium-scale project will identify a range of solutions required to protect sites in Ireland and internationally. The research could potentially feed into a results-based payments schemes for farmers.
Environmental challenges such as climate change are complex and require an integrated, cross-sectoral approach
A project headed up by Hannah Daly of UCC aims to identify pathways for rapidly decarbonising the energy, land and food systems over the coming decades.
The project will quantify the potential level of sequestered carbon required of Ireland under different global scenarios and explore the impact of alternative technological and demand-mitigation levers on reducing carbon emissions.
Also in line for funding is a PhD research programme supported by the EPA and Irish Research Council.
PhD student Lydia Thompson of UCD is examining how agri-environmental schemes and grassland restoration differ in their protection of bumblebee species.
Announcing the awards, EPA director general Laura Burke said: “Environmental challenges such as climate change are complex and require an integrated, cross-sectoral approach [to research] and we are delighted to be working in partnership with a number of organisations, including the Geological Survey Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Met Éireann, to co-fund environmental research.”