The All-of-Government Plan to tackle climate breakdown identifies a series of actions for the agriculture, forestry and land-use sector that will contribute to our transition to a low carbon economy and society across abatement measures, carbon sequestration measures and displacement of fossil fuels.
These actions in this all-of-government plan are informed by the recent Teagasc Marginal Cost Abatement Curve report (MACC) - An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030. The Teagasc MACC curve provides an identifiable suite of actions for delivery including measures on the use of lime, protected urea and slurry additives identified as having potential for GHG abatement.
Protected urea or altered fertiliser formulation offers a very large abatement measure based on the replacement of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser which would result in Nitrous Oxide emission reductions.
The application of lime as a soil conditioner and specifically to neutralise soil acidity and raise pH to an agronomic optimum level has many benefits in terms of crop production and soil nutrient availability and has potential to reduce chemical nitrogen and increase nitrogen use efficiency.
The acidification of manures and slurries using compounds such as alum, ferric chloride or polyaluminium chloride has been shown to sequester phosphorus, reduce ammonia emissions on landspreading and reduce methane and ammonia during storage. These slurry additives showed potential to significantly reduce ammonia and methane emissions over the winter slurry storage period.
The Teagasc MACC curve did not identify soil aeration as a measure with large carbon abatement potential and therefore is not included in the Climate Action Plan. However, we continue to keep potential opportunities under review and one of actions of the climate action plan is to further review and update the Teagasc MACC to reflect any advancements since its publication in 2018.
Additionally, my Department supports research and innovation in these particular areas with ongoing research projects such as “Mitigating Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions by improved pH management of soils (MAGGE PH)”, to ensure there is a continuous pipeline of new opportunities for GHG abatement to consider.
My department will promote and encourage all actions that will assist in reaching our GHG targets by 2030. Forty percent of the future CAP (2021-2027) budget will be directed at climate and environmental measures. However, this will not be enough in itself and market based incentives and regulation will also be necessary.
Ireland has an opportunity to become a global leader in actions on climate change. If we succeed in our ambition in this area, we will create a progressive and sustainable agricultural sector into the future.