BDGP is a European first in the suckler herd sector
Published 23/03/2016 | 02:30
A failure to meet targets will entail financial penalties with the Irish taxpayer purchasing sufficient allowances from other EU countries to cover the excess emissions.
The BDGP nonetheless represents a first in European schemes of this nature in tackling emissions in the suckler herd, and lower carbon intensity has a direct correlation with on-farm profitability, which is explored in the obligatory training sessions for the participating farmers.
By increasing the Replacement Index, which ranks the maternal efficiency of animals on a star based system, farmers are better informed when it comes to selecting suckler cow replacements, for example.
The higher the star rating of a cow, the more likely she is to have higher fertility, which leads to increased calving rate, younger first calving age, higher weight of weanling, lower age of weaning of calf, and so forth.
According to the Agriculture Department, the permanent and cumulative reduction in GHG emissions aimed at is "very significant" given the difficulty in reducing emissions from livestock production.
It is based on the difference between 3 star animals and 5 star animals using the current index.
Furthermore, the mitigation benefits could extend to anything up to 300kt CO2 by 2020 if all maternal traits were factored into the analysis, the department has stated.
They also emphasised that the benefits from the BDGP are "permanent and cumulative", and larger gains can be expected post 2020 as the changed breeding focus takes full effect.
"Improvements have already been shown in decoupling increased agricultural output from increased emissions, and we need to increase the speed at which this is occurring. Can we increase output without a pro-rata increase in emissions? This is the key challenge," said Mr Crosson.