Teagasc, the Irish agricultural research and advisory agency, is urging farmers to explore diversification options such as forestry, organics, anaerobic digestion (AD), and solar PV. According to Teagasc director, Prof. Frank O’Mara, one of the agency’s key goals is to support farmers in adopting new technologies outlined in the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) over the next few years. The MACC, launched earlier this year, highlights measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and suggests diversification options that could displace 140,000 livestock units. Teagasc believes that diversifying into organic farming, increased tillage, forestry, or biomethane feedstock production could help stabilize herds and contribute to meeting emission reduction targets.
In its annual report and financial statements for 2022, Teagasc emphasizes the need to accelerate the development of new and additional technologies. The agency aims to achieve its climate action targets through its Climate Action Strategy, which outlines its support for farmers and the agri-food industry in reducing emissions by 25%. The MACC indicates that agriculture could meet this target by 2030 through an 8% increase in dairy cow numbers and a 29% decrease in suckler cow numbers, assuming maximum adoption of mitigation measures. Measures such as the Dairy Economic Breeding Index (EBI) and a younger slaughter age have been identified as potential contributors to cost savings of up to €2 billion by 2030.
Teagasc chair, Liam Herlihy, highlights the importance of sustainable food production in light of the unexpected disruptions to global agricultural production and markets in 2022. He emphasizes that the role of Teagasc in supporting farmers has become more crucial than ever. Last year, farmers faced significant cost pressures due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Overall, Teagasc’s focus on diversification and the adoption of new technologies reflects the need for Irish agriculture to adapt to changing circumstances and contribute to climate action efforts. By supporting farmers in exploring alternative options and implementing mitigation measures, Teagasc aims to ensure a sustainable and resilient future for the agri-food industry in Ireland.