The Deputy will be aware of the agriculture chapter of the Climate Action Plan which was published late last year.
The chapter sets out the core and further measures that will be implemented over the decade in order to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emisisons of between 5-7MT CO2 eq. Ireland has a detailed and coherent overarching national digital strategy, recently published in February 2022 in the “Harnessing Digital - The Digital Ireland Framework” paper, of which agriculture forms a part. This overall digital strategy clearly recognises that digital technologies are already being deployed in the agriculture sector to improve efficiencies, products, and climate mitigation.
At a general level, technology and innovation will undoubtedly play a key role in the achievement of this objective, we have seen new technologies emerge in recent times such as protected urea which can reduce nitrous oxide emissions significantly.
The feed additive 3NOP that can reduce methane emissions in the rumen of animals by approximately 30% has recently been approved by the European Food Safety Authority. It is hoped to roll out this technology on Irish farms over the decade. DNA technology has also led to significant improvement in animal breeding in recent times. New technologies such as anerobic digestion are specifcally referenced in the Climate Action Plan and they also help reduce emissions.
My Department is investing heavily in technology to reduce carbon emissions and one such example is the establishment of the “National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory” (NASCO) which will comprise of approx. 20 “Flux Towers” across a range of soil types. The establishment of NASCO, managed by Teagasc, will place Ireland at the forefront of EU carbon sequestration research and underpins my commitment to provide the research and data needed to underpin the development of a carbon farming model that targets and rewards actions that remove carbon and store it in our soils.
In my role as Minister, by working with all relevant partners, I will continue to ensure that opportunities in agri-tech are fully exploited.