As dairy farmers apply about 50% of the chemical nitrogen used annually, targets to reduce its use will be particularly relevant to them.
The plan to reduce chemical N by 20% from 2018 levels was already contained in the Ag Climatise report.
As reported in last week’s Irish Farmers Journal, sales of chemical N for 2021 were continuing a declining trend following a decrease of 10% in 2019 and increase in sales of 3% in 2020. We’re on the right track to reach the target of 350,000t of chemical N use by 2030.
Targets around increased adoption of EBI and improved animal health are fuzzy
Greater establishment of clover and more widespread use of low-emission slurry spreading will help to reduce farmers’ reliance on chemical nitrogen – it’s achievable.
Targets around increased adoption of EBI and improved animal health are fuzzy.
It’s hard to see how farmers who haven’t taken up these measures up to now are suddenly going to come on board with gusto. It’s the same with milk recording. The plan states that it wants to increase the number of herds milk recording from 50% to 90%.
About 40% of cows are currently not being milk recorded and if their owners haven’t felt there is a benefit to milk recording up to now, what will incentivise them to think otherwise?
The threat exists that if emissions are not reduced by implementing these ‘technical’ actions, then doing something with animal numbers is the next option
The net effect of the Climate Action Plan is to create uncertainty for the dairy sector. While there are no specific targets around reducing or capping animal numbers, the plan clearly states that 80% of emissions are related to animals, in one form or another. The threat exists that if emissions are not reduced by implementing these ‘technical’ actions, then doing something with animal numbers is the next option. For any farmer thinking of getting into dairy, or thinking of expanding cow numbers, this raises a red flag.
I was at a dairy discussion group meeting on Monday last and while many things were discussed, the Climate Action Plan was not one of them. To me, this is symbolic of the fatigue that exists at farm level around Government plans and reports between CAP, nitrates and now climate.