Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) with responsibility for research and development, Martin Heydon, has said that recent funding for research on climate action and the environment by his department “sends out a strong signal of intent”.

Referring to the announcement of over €20 million in research funding to the agri-food sector earlier this week, Minister Heydon stated: “The allocation of 60% of the total research funding for ten projects in the areas of climate and environmental research sends out a strong signal of intent.

“This government recognises the significant climate and environmental challenges facing the agriculture sector and it is prepared to invest and work with stakeholders to finding solutions to those challenges.”

The call also prioritised collaboration and sharing of knowledge to ensure Ireland will deliver on its climate ambitions.

Minister Heydon remarked: “When I announced the research awards earlier this week, I was delighted to see the collaborative approach being taken in these projects, as envisaged in the Food Vision 2030 Strategy, where researchers will work together with partners from industry, civil society and government, thus working as one to develop a more sustainable agri-food system.

“A significant project will look at new measures to reduce greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions and increase carbon sinks while also considering how these measures can be credited to farmers who implement them (LAB-MACC).”

The Land-Use, Agriculture and Bioenergy Measures for the Abatement of Climate Change and inclusion in Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (LAB-MACC) analyses will quantify mitigation associated with a range of new measures that reduce GHG emissions, enhance land carbon sinks, and displace fossil fuel emissions.

Other climate research projects

The minister also drew attention to a number of the other projects recently awarded funding.

“I note with interest that the ‘PASTURE-NUE’ project aims to engage directly with dairy, beef and sheep farmers to unlock the wealth of knowledge and experience that they can bring to reduce nitrogen and ammonia emissions,” he said.

“Similarly, the ‘REWET’ project will involve farmers in developing actions to restore the water table in agricultural landscapes, which in turn can enhance carbon dioxide [CO2] removal from the atmosphere.

“We also know the importance that forestry will play in reaching our climate targets and I believe the project ‘ContinuFOR’ will produce useful insights into continuous cover forestry,” the minister added.

Heydon said he is looking forward to the outcomes of these new research projects and is confident they will offer new practices, technologies and services that will benefit farms, forests, the environment and society.

“Crucially, they will also make a significant contribution to fulfilling our actions and targets in the Food Vision 2030 Strategy and the Climate Action Plan,” he concluded.