The Irish government has announced €3.8 million in new research funding for four collaborative projects focused on climate and agriculture. The research will cover areas such as inventory refinement from pasture-based farming systems, peatland soil modelling for carbon sequestration enhancement, soil sensor development for organic carbon monitoring, and reducing nitrous oxide emissions in mixed pastures. These projects are the result of the 2023 Ireland – New Zealand joint research call, supported by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries. The research will be conducted by institutions including Teagasc, University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Dublin City University (DCU), and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).
The announcement of the research funding took place during the Agriculture and Climate Change: Science in Action conference held at the Aviva Stadium. The conference was hosted by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, Minister of State with responsibility for research Martin Heydon, and Minister of State for land use Pippa Hackett. The event brought together over 500 delegates from the agri-food sector to discuss the latest science and policy developments related to agriculture and climate change.
During the conference, national and international researchers discussed breeding and feed additives to reduce methane emissions, soil and pasture management to reduce nitrous oxide emissions, and strategies to increase carbon sequestration. The conference also explored the potential role of a diversified agriculture and land use sector in reducing and offsetting emissions. In his pre-recorded remarks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged the challenge facing Irish farming and agriculture, but expressed confidence in the sector’s ability to rise to the challenge and achieve a more sustainable food production sector.
Minister Charlie McConalogue emphasized the need for a more sustainable agri-food system, highlighting the importance of the right policy environment, investment in science and innovation, and collective action against climate change. He described the conference as an opportunity to hear new ideas and science, engage in discussion, and identify ways to support farmers who are at the forefront of climate change impacts.
Minister Martin Heydon welcomed the new research funding, emphasizing the importance of investing in future innovations to meet climate targets. He stated that the funding of €3.8 million demonstrates the commitment to the rapid development of climate technologies through collaborative efforts. Additionally, Ministers McConalogue and Heydon will soon announce a further €20 million in research funding, with €8.8 million dedicated to climate research.
Minister of State Pippa Hackett participated in a panel discussion on diversification in agriculture and land use. She highlighted the attractive financial options available to farmers through programs such as the Organic Farming Scheme and the new Forestry Programme, which can help farmers deliver on climate goals while boosting their income.
Overall, the conference provided a platform for researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders to come together, share knowledge, and explore strategies to address the challenges of climate change in the agricultural sector. The research funding announced will contribute to advancing scientific understanding and developing innovative solutions for a more sustainable and resilient agri-food system in Ireland.