‘Department will encourage actions that assist in meeting GHG targets’ – Creed

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 Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy and society across abatement measures, carbon sequestration measures and displacement of fossil fuels.

These were the sentiments expressed by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, during Dáil proceedings last week after he was asked by deputy Danny Healy-Rae (Independent) if supports for greater use of protected urea, lime, slurry additives and soil aeration will be provided for in any actions going forward.

Minister Creed said the actions in the all-of-Government plan were informed by the recent Teagasc Marginal Cost Abatement Curve (MACC) report – ‘An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse (GHG) Emissions 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.

He continued: “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.

“It also has the potential to reduce chemical nitrogen (N) and increase N use efficiency.”

Reducing ammonia emissions

Minister Creed went on to say that the acidification of manures and slurries using compounds such as alum, ferric chloride or polyaluminium chloride has proven to sequester phosphorus (P), reduce ammonia emissions on land-spreading 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 2019,” he continued.

He did warn, however, that the department continues to keep potential opportunities under review.

Creed also highlighted the fact that one of the actions of the climate action plan is to further review and update the Teagasc MACC to reflect any advancements since its publication in 2018.

My department will promote and encourage all actions that will assist in reaching our GHG targets by 2030.

“40% 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.”