The government has published an extensive list of deadlines for the farming sector, which aim to ensure the delivery of the Climate Action Plan 2021.
The plan sets legally binding targets of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 and a reduction of 51% by 2030.
To meet the targets, the government said the Climate Action Delivery Board will ensure departments and public bodies are held to account for the delivery of actions.
The cabinet committee on environment and climate change will also provide reports on a quarterly basis to government.
Climate Action Plan
The annex of actions, published this week (Tuesday, December 14), provides details on how and when targets and projects will be met.
The Climate Action Plan wants to reduce chemical nitrogen use to a maximum of 325,000t annually by 2030, with an interim target of 350,000t by 2025.
The annex states that many of the measures will be implemented through the new Nitrates Action Programme (NAP); a draft of that plan was released yesterday (Tuesday, December 14).
From the first quarter of next year, Teagasc will begin a campaign to encourage farmers to target fertiliser use more accurately.
In Q1 2023, a national fertiliser user register is to be introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM); consultation on the register with co-ops and the fertiliser industry is due to finish in Q3 next year.
An information portal on protected nitrogen products will be established by DAFM by the middle of next year.
In the first three months of 2022, Teagasc is to publish a paper focusing on lower methane production in beef breeding through the selection of certain traits.
In the second quarter of 2023, a report on how crude protein in animal diets can be reduced will be released, following consultation with the feed industry.
Next year, trial work will be carried out on the development of feed additives, i.e. seaweed, for cattle and sheep in a bid to reduce methane emissions during the housing period.
In the third quarter of next year, DAFM will provide data on a controversial proposal to reduce the average slaughter age of cattle from 27, to 24 months by 2030.
The annex lists the beef industry, Teagasc and agricultural constultants as key stakeholders in “developing pathways” to meet this target.
A deadline of 2030 has been set to increase the number of dairy farmers carrying out milk recording from 50% to 90%.
By the middle of next year, the annex document states that a biomethane anaerobic digestion pilot plant will be established at the Teagasc campus in Grange.
An agricultural GHG research and innovation centre is also to be set up by Teagasc before the end of 2022.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, said “ we have seen that we can work across government to tackle Covid-19″.
“We now need to give the same cross-government impetus to our work on climate action, so we can reach our goals and create a cleaner, greener economy and society,” he stated.