Sir, – Teagasc research has been improving the science behind agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, including the identification of technical measures to reduce emissions, and improving the accuracy with which the Environmental Protection Agency count emissions in the national inventory. Teagasc efforts for the latter have mainly been through developing Irish-specific emission factors. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends where possible to use Tier 2 or Tier 3 levels of accounting in national inventories, but the use of Tier 1 does not mean the emissions are not counted in the inventory, it just means we are using IPCC default emission factors due to the absence of country-specific ones.
Our published research was used in 2018 by the Environmental Protection Agency to move to Tier 2 for many soils related nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. This research has also identified low-emission fertilisers (protected urea), which can reduce fertiliser N2O emissions by two-thirds and this technology is increasingly being used by farmers to reduce emissions.
Current research in Teagasc, through the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory, is focused on further improving the estimation of greenhouse gas sequestration and emissions across a wide range of soils. Recently published research by Teagasc has indicated that the area of drained agricultural peat soils is substantially lower than currently estimated in the inventory.
Across Ireland, research in Teagasc and our universities is helping us to better understand greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration coming from both agriculture as well as land-use, land-use change and forestry. Once published, this evidence may then be considered by the EPA for the refinement of the national inventory. The EU, in their response to Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment, were complimentary of the efforts made in Ireland towards more accurate reporting (Letters, September 15th).
The farmers of Ireland are working hard to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration on their land while producing high-quality food. Nationally nitrogen fertiliser use has reduced by up to 30 per cent over the past two years and there has been a significant increase in the use of the low-emission fertiliser, protected urea. Both of these are leading to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. – Yours, etc,
Dr KARL RICHARDS,
Head of the Teagasc
Climate Research Centre,