As part of the new climate protection plan, the nitrogen limit values of the companies are to be checked in order to reduce the use of fertilizers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
However, the government has not included any measure directly aimed at reducing the number of livestock on farms.
The plan, released today by the government, sets out measures that will see the agricultural sector reduce its emissions by 25 percent by 2030.
It describes how greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have increased significantly in recent years and attributes this “almost entirely” to the abolition of milk quotas, which has led to an expansion of the dairy sector.
The plan said that if emissions from the dairy sector continued to increase despite a corresponding reduction in the beef sector, total agricultural emissions would increase despite efficiency gains.
The government has stated that the adoption of greenhouse gas efficient farming practices needs to be increased by 1.5 times compared to the measures outlined in the Climate Action Plan 2019.
These include a more climate-efficient use of fertilizers, improved animal feeding, improved animal husbandry, bringing cattle to an earlier age and more ecological agriculture.
According to the plan, agriculture must reduce emissions by 4.1 percent annually in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 to meet this first carbon budget.
“Due to the increased cost of chemical fertilizers in 2022, emissions in the industry are expected to decrease slightly due to the decline in chemical nitrogen sales. The challenge is to take action to ensure that this becomes the longer-term trend for the industry,” it said.
The plan aims to reduce chemical N consumption to a maximum of 330,000 tons by 2025 and 300,000 tons by 2030.
To achieve this goal, the Ministry of Agriculture should set up a national fertilizer database and fund multispecies and clover turfs to reduce N-dependence.
However, the plan also states that a review of nitrogen ceilings on farms will be carried out by the second quarter of 2024, separate from the review of the conditions for granting the exemption status.
The Department will continue to fund LESS to help reduce nitrogen.
There is also a target to increase adoption of proprietary urea on grassland farms to 80-90 percent.
The climate protection plan also aims to reduce the age at which cattle are slaughtered from 26 to 22 to 23 months. However, the plan offered little detail on how this would be achieved.
The plan also includes ambitions to offer ranchers “diversification options” such as anaerobic digestion, forestry and tillage. It included the goal of producing up to 1 TWh of biomethane by 2025 and building up to 20 large-scale AD plants.
The government is also targeting a nearly 5-fold increase in organic farming to reach 250,000 hectares by 2025 and 450,000 hectares by 2030.
This will help further reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides, with corresponding environmental benefits.
In particular, the plan also included the goal of increasing the arable area from the current 348,000 hectares to 400,000 hectares.
“Despite the increasing land competition from the dairy sector, there is scope for further expansion in this area. There is also an opportunity for the industry to capitalize on opportunities for high value crops based on changing consumer preferences, creating opportunities for both the primary producer and new food markets and bioeconomy efforts,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Climate Action Plan reaffirmed the government’s ambition to increase our annual afforestation rates from about 2,000 hectares (ha) per year in 2021 and 2022 to 8,000 ha per year from 2023, an additional 28,000 ha of afforestation over the first to be achieved Period of the CO2 budget.
It has also re-set the goal of ‘improving’ carbon sequestration management of 200,000 ha of grassland on mineral soils and reducing the ‘management intensity’ of grassland on 25,000 ha of drained organic soil.
Achievement of targets will be continually reviewed, the plan states, with further policies, measures and actions frontloaded to address failure or projected failure as needed, including as part of the annual update of the climate action plan.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/forestry-enviro/environment/nitrogen-limits-on-farms-to-reviewed-under-new-climate-action-plan-42236562.html Nitrogen limits for farms will be reviewed as part of the new climate protection plan