Irish smart farming has cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent

New initiative is good for environment and saves an average of €8,700 per farm

A new initiative to encourage “smart farming” has succeeded in reducing CO2 emissions by 10 per cent on participating farms, and also improved financial returns for farmers, according to the first assessment of its effectiveness.

Publication of the first Smart Farming Progress Report “shows a significant overshoot of targets for improving farm returns and enhancing the environment”, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association, which runs the voluntary initiative with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A total of 1,000 farmers will have participated in the programme by the end of 2017, with detailed resource efficiency assessments completed on 38 farms. The programme’s target this year was to achieve an average cost saving of €5,000 and a reduction of 5 to 7 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions (which contribute to global warming) for each participating farm.

In addition to the 10 per cent average reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, average cost savings of €8,700 were achieved. Improving soil fertility accounted for 47 per cent of the savings, while better grassland management achieved 21 per cent in savings.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times