Ireland under-estimating area under cropland by 46pc claim scientists
Figures could have implications for greenhouse gas reduction targets
Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30
Ireland could be under- estimating the amount of land it is declaring as cropland by 46pc, something that could have serious implications for our greenhouse gas emissions targets.
New research from scientists at Trinity College, Dublin said that the inaccuracy is linked to the exclusion of field history.
It states that pasture ploughed even once during the last five years should be included as cropland rather than grassland.
"Even reseeded grassland should be considered cropland, if it was ploughed in the last five years," said Dr Jesko Zimmerman, author of the study.
Ploughing ground for a new crop releases up to one tonne of carbon into the atmosphere.
In contrast, a permanent pasture removes one tonne of carbon from the atmosphere annually.
"The ploughing breaks up the soil aggregates, which releases carbon, and exposes the organic matter to bacteria that release more carbon," said Mr Zimmerman.
However, Teagasc's climate change expert, Dr Gary Lanigan said that the extra carbon released into the atmosphere was effectively removed again by the grassland over the following two years.