I am very much aware of the important role that on-farm carbon removals and carbon pool protection will play in meeting the sectors challenging climate change targets going forward. It is important that the increased removal and storage of atmospheric carbon brought about through the activities of our farmers is not only recognised in the National Inventory Reporting accounting system but also that farmers receive the recognition for their efforts in this area.
In recent months I have invested in a number of initiatives which will provide the scientific evidence needed to accurately quantify the on-farm carbon removals happening on our farms. I believe that this data will not only refine the emission profile of our farms but it will also inform policy decisions in this area to better support farmers in their efforts to sequester, store and protect carbon through better management decisions.
I would like to highlight the recent establishment of the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory (NASCO) with supporting technology for the measurement of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a range of different soil and farm types. The outputs from this project will place Ireland at the forefront of EU carbon sequestration research. This carbon flux infrastructure will be located on a number of Teagasc Signpost farms.
In tandem with the Soil Carbon Observatory I have also recently launched the Pilot Soil Sampling and Analysis Programme which will provide a baseline assessment of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) across the country.
In addition, Teagasc has also recently commenced a research project called “Farm-Carbon – Farm Hedgerows and Non-forest Woodland Carbon”. This project will provide a deeper understanding of hedgerows and non-forest woodland as carbon stocks in agricultural landscapes and will allow researchers to identify approaches to maintain and enhance this contribution.
The knowledge gained from these activities I believe will place Ireland at the forefront of research in carbon farming while also allowing for the refinement of our reporting to the National Inventory further emphasising the sustainability of the agricultural sector.