Climate-smart farming 'holds key to future of Irish agriculture'

Better use of land and fertiliser could make Ireland a world leader in climate smart agriculture
Better use of land and fertiliser could make Ireland a world leader in climate smart agriculture
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Better use of land and fertiliser could make Ireland a world leader in climate smart agriculture.

Some 300 national and international experts including NGOs, governments, agri-business researchers and farmers, say going greener could benefit the agri-food sector.

However Government plans to boost exports under the Food Harvest 2020 strategy will make meeting our climate change obligations difficult.

But a survey from the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) and the RDS says investment in research and development, better use of fertiliser and optimising land use are key to climate-smart farming.


Some 87pc of respondents said the best strategy involved "economically and environmentally optimising our land resources across the beef, tillage and forestry sectors".

This would allow exports to increase, while attempting to limit the environmental damage that can arise from intensive farming practices.

However, researchers found no clear global leader in the area, suggesting an opportunity for the State.

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An international sample suggests Holland is slightly ahead of Ireland, the UK, US and New Zealand in reducing emissions from the troublesome sector.

The IIEA's Joseph Curtin, a member of the Government's National Advisory Council on Climate Change, said the results were an "important insight" into national and international sentiment on climate-smart agriculture.

"Encouragingly, a huge majority of all stakeholders, whether NGOs, farmers, government, independent experts or agri-business, identified the three pillars of climate-smart agriculture - increasing farm incomes and productivity, reducing emissions, and building resilience to climate impacts - as important for Ireland.

"We have an opportunity to be a global leader in a version of farming that is both environmentally and economically sustainable."

The survey will be revealed at a Leadership Forum on Climate-Smart Agriculture at the RDS today.

It reached 1,556 international experts and stakeholders, and 1,504 national experts and stakeholders, with response rates of 10pc and 14pc, respectively.


Tom Arnold, the IIEA's director general, said: 'We hope that the CSA Leadership Forum will catalyse new thinking on climate-smart agriculture, with a shift towards more sustainable environmental and economic solutions for an industry whose scale is domestic and global."

RDS president Matt Dempsey added: "The focus on farm incomes, climate resilience and mitigation is the triple-win at the heart of climate smart agriculture, future-proofing Irish agriculture for the years to come."

Irish Independent