‘Smart farmers’ reduced carbon emissions by 9%, EPA says

Participants to share experience gained in project which aims to cut impact of farming on environment

Farmers participating in the ‘Smart Farming’ voluntary programme reduced emissions by 9 per cent and saved an average of €7,170 a year, the EPA said.  Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.

Farmers participating in the ‘Smart Farming’ voluntary programme reduced emissions by 9 per cent and saved an average of €7,170 a year, the EPA said. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.

 

A growing number of Irish farmers want to participate in “Smart Farming” which aims to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Irish Farmers’ Association.

The latest figures show farmers participating in the Smart Farming voluntary programme, run jointly by the organisations, are reducing emissions by 9 per cent and saving an average of €7,170 a year.

The data was released to mark World Food Day (WFD), which highlights global issues including food security, sustainability and climate change.

Fifty farmers from across the State this year took part in the programme, with the objective of identifying at least €5,000 of cost savings and ways to reduce their climate impact by up to 7 per cent.

Improved soil fertility accounted for 42 per cent of the savings, while grassland management accounted for 17 per cent of savings.

IFA president Joe Healy said the biggest success of Smart Farming is “the growing number of farmers wanting to participate in this programme, which is making a difference for them, their families and the wider community”.

He added: “This has been a challenging year for farm families right across the country, with a prolonged wet spring and a long dry summer. This challenging weather is a reminder to us all of the fragility of our environment.”

Change

EPA director general Laura Burke said the project sought to bring about the transformational change required to transition to a low-carbon and resource-efficient economy.

“The supports provided through Smart Farming are shared through peer-to-peer learning and have the potential to be scaled up across the country,” she added.

Participating farmers will over coming months share the outcomes of their efforts with their neighbours as part of the knowledge exchange module of the programme.

Separately, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has announced Ireland is to participate in the European joint action on novel technologies, solutions and systems to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) associated with animal production systems.

The initiative recognises greater sustainability of livestock production systems “will not only require innovative scientific endeavour but must also incorporate all relevant economic, social and environmental dimensions if meaningful results are to be achieved”.

In Ireland, funding awards will made by the Department of Agriculture in partnership with Teagasc.

Vegan diet

Meanwhile the large “intelligent nutrition retailer” nu3, which is based in Germany, issued two studies to coincide with WFD on annual carbon emissions for 130 countries; “underlining how citizens could reduce their carbon footprint by switching to a vegan diet”

In a carbon index, Argentina emits the highest levels of CO2 per person due to animal product consumption, at 305 kg per year.

“This means that Argentinians can make the biggest impact to the environment by switching to a plant-based diet,” nu3 said.

Ireland is ranked 15th in the index, emitting on average 204 kg of CO2 per person annually for animal products and 7.95 kg of CO2 per person annually for non-animal products.