Funding of €2 million to help deliver 5,000 climate-neutral farms is a “game changer” in paving the way for the agriculture industry to be an environmental leader towards hitting ambitious climate targets, according to a Fine Gael senator.
Dairy farmer and senator Tim Lombard said: “Today’s news from Minister Harris that the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Future Innovator Prize has been awarded to the Farm Zero C team is a significant indicator of just how sustainable the agriculture sector in Ireland is going to be over the coming years.
The Farm Zero C team at University College Dublin (UCD) has been awarded €2 million to help deliver a climate-neutral farm near Bandon, Co Cork, with plans to extend the project to a further 5,000 farms within five years.
Becoming a climate-neutral farm
Senator Lombard said: “From speaking with fellow farmers on a regular basis, I know that many want to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint, but a significant number just don’t know how best to go about it.
“I know many farmers are engaged with our climate agenda but are also thinking – where do I begin, how much will it cost, how can I make an impact?
“In order to hit our ambitious climate targets, we need to show our farmers what steps they can take to become a part of the change. We need to share actionable and practical plans with workers in this industry, and back these ideas up with financial support,” he added.
“The Farm Zero C team has done just this; they’ve come up with solutions that can be rolled out to farms across the country to minimise the sector’s carbon emissions and maximise the overall positive impact.”
The Fine Gael Oireachtas member said the Farm Zero C team has looked at how planting different types of grasses and clovers on pastures and supporting hedgerows can boost biodiversity and soil health.
The team has also focused on how changing what is fed livestock affects how much methane gas they produce.
“Technology also forms a key part of the project; wider deployment of the strategy will include the rollout of a mobile app which will integrate farm and satellite data, habitat mapping and natural capital accounting, to provide users with information on the carbon footprint of their activities and to develop strategies to mitigate these,” senator Lombard continued.
Tim Lombard is the Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on agriculture.
He said: “The SFI prize is an acknowledgement of the potential for the farming sector to be a national environmental leader in meeting our ambitions as set out in the Climate Action Bill, which was passed in the Dáil last week and is before the Seanad for discussion today (Monday, June 21).
“Today’s announcement marks a very poignant moment on our journey to making the Irish agricultural sector one of the most sustainable industries in the country,” he concluded.