'It will be ultimately up to individual farmers to come together as a sector to confront the climate change challenge'
It is well recognised that Irish dairy farmers are among the most environmentally sustainable food producers in the world, according to William Burchill.
The Teagsac/Dairygold Joint Programme Manager said that despite this, recent revisions to both Irelands national greenhouse gas (GHG) and ammonia emissions targets will create a significant challenge to the Irish dairy sector going forward, he said at the National Dairy Conference.
Agriculture accounts for 32pc of Ireland’s national GHG emissions and virtually all national ammonia emissions (>98pc), he said. Agricultural GHG and ammonia emissions have increased in recent years and are projected to increase further in the future, he added.
“It will be ultimately up to individual farmers to come together as a sector to confront this challenge,” he said at the conference.
As a result, steps will need to be taken within the Irish dairy sector to reduce GHG and ammonia emissions while maintaining and improving profitability, he explained.
What are the sources of GHG and ammonia emissions on Irish farms?
The majority of GHG emissions come from methane gas produced by cattle, he said, adding that the remainder is associated with nitrogen fertiliser use and the management of livestock manures.
The sources of agricultural ammonia emissions differ to GHG, he said. The majority of agricultural ammonia emissions arise from cattle housing, cattle yards, slurry storage and application of livestock manure to land (92pc), he explained.