Hitting emissions targets 'difficult for efficient Irish'
Irish farmers will have difficulty reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting ambitious EU targets aimed at tackling climate change because they are "too efficient".
Unless temperature rises are kept below 2 C, farmers can also expect lower crop yields in the future, claimed Alexandre Meybeck, of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Good management of grassland means there is little scope for improvements, but using clover instead of fertiliser could lead to some reductions in carbon emissions.
"The difficulty for Irish agriculture is [that] the margin for improvement is reduced when you're already efficient," Mr Meybeck said.
"Grasslands are being managed efficiently but using more clover instead of fertiliser would be beneficial. Development of biogas [would lead to reductions] but may be difficult. Most of the potential for people is carbon sinks but they are not accounted for in Kyoto and EU regulations."
Globally, agriculture accounts for 13.5pc of all greenhouse gas emissions but Irish rates are far higher at 29pc. The EU average is 9pc.
"This is due to the importance of the livestock sector," he added. "When you compare the efficiency of this sector, compared to other parts of the world for a grass-based system, it's far more efficient because of know-how and experience.