It occurs to me straight away to invite the committee to visit Teagasc's offices at some point in the future. Reference was made to the food innovation hub at Moorepark, for which we have secured planning permission. It will probably be constructed in 18 months or so, but it is part of a process of adding value in the mainstream activities, particularly in the dairy sector. We also recently won an Enterprise Ireland regional innovation fund grant, along with Dairygold and Cork County Council, to build an agri-tech hub at our Kilworth farm in order that we might study the whole area of precision agriculture. There is a great deal of activity going on at Moorepark.
On climate change, I would love to have the committee visit Johnstown Castle. I was somewhat disappointed that a Deputy who represents the constituency in which I live stated that Teagasc has not really made a mark in the context of tackling climate change. I strongly disagree with that assertion. We have not been jumping up and down on the rooftops about it but, as far as I am concerned, the only coherent set of policy proposals produced on agricultural transition, as it is known, towards a neutral carbon future, was brought forward by Teagasc. We produced a very comprehensive document last June, A Marginal Abatement Cost Curve for Irish Agriculture, in which we outlined no less that 27 specific, science-based measures which, if adopted, would enable us to substantially achieve our 2030 targets. The Deputies are correct to say that we will not achieve our 2020 targets in any sector. Agriculture is going to be particularly challenging as we move forward. I agree with Senator Mulherin; I have said publicly that it is a perfectly legitimate aspiration for the agricultural sector to grow and for individual farmers to grow their businesses. Ireland has also signed up to internationally binding obligations. Teagasc identified different scenarios in the document to which I refer. We have examined six different scenarios in respect of livestock numbers. I will be happy to make the document in question available to the committee. In fact, it is going to be discussed tomorrow at a meeting of one of the other joint committees.
Emissions in Irish agriculture follow livestock numbers; there is almost a direct correlation.
We have identified potential savings up to 2030 of 9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is significant in the context of a benchmark baseline of 20 megatonnes. As far as I am concerned, we have been leading the way. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine endorsed our proposed measures and the new Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Deputy Bruton, recently did the same. We have solved the problem on a spreadsheet and we are the only ones to have laid it out, which we can do because of our in-house expertise. However, in spite of the weather over the past year, there is poor awareness among farmers of climate change in general and, specifically, the issue of ammonia, which I have been raising for some time.
The challenge in respect of ammonia is significant and will be difficult to address. Action needs to be taken on awareness and farm adoption. Teagasc research indicates that farmers who switch from using calcium ammonium nitrate as a source of nitrogen to using stabilised urea would achieve the same yield in gas production, but greenhouse gases and ammonia would be reduced. However, it is difficult to persuade farmers to make that change. There is currently no significant difference in the cost of the two fertilisers. Over several years we have shown that the application of slurry using trailing shoe technology leads to a significant reduction in emissions.
The measures are available; adoption is the issue. Although is not within our remit, it is important that policy support action in this area. We have suggested that the next CAP be used to ensure that measures are consistent. If the committee were to visit Johnstown Castle, members would be given a full run-down on the research. We are expending significant resources in this area. We must expend more in future because the measures we have identified are based on current knowledge. The field of additives is rapidly changing. In the past three weeks, we met representatives of three companies, which each developed a feed additive product. Of course, the companies are optimistic about their products which must be analysed and so on. It is a rapidly changing field in which we are investing significant resources. The challenges will be in respect of adoption and policy to back up those measures.
Reference was made to forestry. I previously described forestry as a get-out-of-jail clause for the agricultural sector because we estimate that 3 megatonnes or one third of the savings we have identified may come from forestry. Thankfully, enough trees were grown over the past 30 or 40 years to get us to 2030, but if the rate of plantation is not increased, there will be a serious difficulty in 2030. We estimate that new plantations will decline to 4,500 ha this year. The target is approximately 8,000 ha or 8,500 ha. The rate of plantation has fallen consistently over the past two years. There is a significant problem in that regard. As members will be aware, there is significant opposition to forestry in certain parts of the country. We must convince farmers, particularly dairy farmers, that they should have an interest in trees. There is a big opportunity to have native woodland plantations on every dairy farm in the country. I was surprised by the significant percentage of forest area on dairy farms, but there is more potential in that regard. It would be a fantastic gesture on behalf of the dairy sector to demonstrate its willingness to address the issue of climate change.
On renewables, we have identified the potential of energy crops and so forth. It is limited enough in the sense that there can be a displacement of fossil fuels. I have been a strong advocate of anaerobic digestion but the policy environment must be right. We have built a demonstration plant in Grange, which is about to be commissioned, to illustrate to farmers how one can use the grass-based biomass to produce high-quality gas. We have also been discussing with a number of entities how that might be developed further. There is a great deal happening, but the policy follow through is an issue.
Senator Paul Daly referred to farm safety. Some colleagues who are here and members of this committee were at the meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts when the Chairman raised the issue of farm safety. I am sure all of us have experienced a tragedy on a farm so we are all very aware of it. Teagasc works very closely with the Health and Safety Authority. Our remit is to deliver advice and the authority has a different remit from ours but we have a collaboration agreement with it. We do quite an amount of research because this is a very challenging area. Most farmers have an awareness of the issues and hazards but despite that, they still engage in practices that are clearly not safe. We have carried out a great deal of research on the behaviour that motivates this type of attitude to health and safety and we have acquired many insights that can advise our advisory activity. However, the Senator is 100% right. If one were to use the metric of farm fatalities and, more generally, farm injury one would not be pointing to a positive trend.
We constantly try to work on this. For example, we are appointing an additional specialist in farm health and safety. The specialist works closely with our 260 advisers. That is how we do it. We deliver the messages. At almost every farm discussion group, there is a health and safety topic, but I would be the first to say that it is clearly not working. Sermonising and preaching are not enough. That is the reality. I am happy to say that there has been a welcome improvement in the number of child fatalities. The farmyard business and the household have to be separate in my opinion. It is a dangerous place for young people, yet we see many transgressions. We are appointing a new specialist and we are trying to adapt the insights from research. A number of entities, including the Department, could, in my opinion, work more closely, particularly in the context of promotional campaigns. We should all be involved in this together. We are involved in promoting the code of practice and we have training programmes. Despite the massive effort the challenge has been elusive so far. I wish I could suggest today what will make a difference. At the same time we have long been of the view that regulation or enforcement does not work. It is hard to put in place the level of inspectorate that is required. I strongly believe it does not work but at the same time we must review what is happening.
Deputy Penrose raised a number of important issues that I wish to address. With regard to the food innovation hub, we have planning permission and we hope it will be completed in 18 months or so. It will be a very important development. There are already approximately 14 companies in Moorepark. They are from all over the country and some are from overseas but are doing business in Ireland.
They have stated that they want a facility on site where they can have complete confidentiality, while at the same time being in a position to use the shared resources available. That is the strategy behind this. It is all about providing added value. I am not talking about a more exotic final consumer products lists, but there is a lot of valued added in food ingredients, particularly in infant formula. We call it the smart ingredients approach. It is probably not all that visible, but it is where the innovation lies for the producers of these products.
I want to address the issue of Greenfield farm.