Teagasc is beginning work to develop life cycle assessments for Irish grain, according to John Spink, who heads up the Teagasc crops, environment and land use programme.

Speaking at the Teagasc National Tillage Conference last week, he mentioned the importance of putting a value on low emission ingredients in animal feed rations.

Spink emphasised the huge emissions from grain grown in countries where deforestation is happening and commented that the emissions associated with transport on a boat are not that high.

So, soya from an established tillage area may have a relatively low footprint, for example.

His comments come almost one year after Teagasc researcher Gary Lanigan announced details of a study that showed how many Irish tillage farms may already be carbon neutral when carbon sequestration by cover crops, trees, hedgerows and straw incorporation are included.

While the Irish Farmers Journal understands this carbon offsetting cannot be included in the international standard for life cycle assessments in feed, it can have many other benefits.

Teagasc director Frank O’Mara had earlier stated that more Irish grain in animal feed improves sustainability and marketing credentials.

“Replacing some of the imported grain with home-grown grain would be very beneficial to lowering the carbon footprint of our livestock products – our meat and our milk,” he said.

Teagasc previously estimated that the carbon footprint of Irish tillage farms was 1.18t CO2e/ha, compared to South American maize at 27t CO2e/ha.