Bill Callanan – chief agricultural inspector with the Department of Agriculture – acknowledged the low contribution that the tillage sector makes to climate change at today’s, December 5, Irish Tillage and Land Use Society (ITLUS) conference.

On that note he added that farmers need to get better at highlighting the good points of their sectors.

Tillage sector must contribute to reduction in emissions

Speaking in Athy, Callanan commented on the relatively low contribution tillage makes to agricultural emissions. However, he added that every sector has to contribute to the reduction in emissions and that we must prevent agriculture from being caught in the crossfire of the argument.

He noted that agriculture has to reduce its emissions by 10-15% and while this is significantly lower than the reduction required by the transport sector – it needs to reduce emissions by more than 40% – this figure will provide a challenge to Irish agriculture.

Callanan added that the department thinks a three-legged stool approach is needed.

Those three legs are:
  • Reducing emissions from the sector overall;
  • Carbon sequestration – through afforestation and management of peat soils;
  • Contribution to energy reduction on farms and a reduction in energy supply.

He listed soil management, protein crops, cereals for brewing and food-grade crops such as oats as opportunities for the tillage sector.

Agriculture needs to tell its own story

He added that farmers need to get better at telling their story to consumers who are now more removed from agriculture and commented that if the story isn’t told “it will be made up by someone else”.

“I don’t think we’re doing particularly well around our message of what agriculture is doing.”

The chief inspector stated that everyone has an opinion and asked how do we inform that opinion?

How do we tell the story?

Callanan noted that there are 20,000ha of wild bird cover in this country, but it doesn’t get any coverage.