Farmer climate commitment ‘evident’ in urea and LESS trends

Sales of protected urea have increased significantly this year – which, along with other actions, “underlines farmer commitment” to reducing emissions from agriculture, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

From January to June, just under 40,000t of protected urea were sold, compared to 21,000 in 2019, the organisation notes.

According to Teagasc, protected urea is the number one technology to reduce losses of both ammonia (from urea) and the GHG nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.

Farmers have also continued to invest in Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment (LESS), the IFA says.

With grant support from the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS), farmers have already invested an estimated €79.6 million in LESS equipment such as trailing shoes and dribble bars.

Commenting, IFA Dairy Committee chairman Tom Phelan said there is a six to nine-month waiting list for such machinery, which he said “clearly indicates the interest” among farmers.

Next year, all farmers in receipt of a Nitrates derogation must spread their slurry with LESS – this is real change delivered by farmers.

IFA Environment Committee chairman Paul O’Brien said that nobody is denying the scale of the climate challenge facing Irish farmers, but it is great to see farmers already adapting and getting on with it.

“In the midst of extreme scrutiny of farming practices, what often gets overlooked is the positive and tangible change that is occurring at farm level,” he said.

Switching to protected urea and using LESS equipment are two of the main actions at farm level identified by the Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) to reduce green-house gas and ammonia emissions.

O’Brien said that these actions show that farmers are willing to change, but a focused plan is needed to encourage farmers to take up the measures identified in the MACC.

“It is easy for the government to set targets – but we need to continue to support farmers to translate these into actions on the ground,” he concluded.