GHG emissions from Irish beef farming lower than dairy levels

A report published today (Tuesday, March 26) by Teagasc has indicated that, on a per hectare basis, emissions from Irish beef farming are significantly lower than the greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming.

The report, launched this morning at the Teagasc Conference Centre in Ashtown, Co. Dublin, outlined that agricultural GHG emissions per hectare remained fairly stable between 2013 and 2017 across all farm systems at 4.5t to 4.7t of CO2 equivalent per hectare.

It notes that, due to the “more intensive nature” of production for dairy systems compared to all other grassland systems, agricultural GHG emissions are significantly higher in this sector.

The report, produced by Teagasc economists, looks at agricultural sustainability at farm level across the economic, environmental, social and innovation dimensions.

The table below shows agricultural GHG emissions per hectare on a three-year rolling average from 2012 to 2017:

Source: Teagasc National Farm Survey 2017 Sustainability Report

According to the report, the conclusion that can be drawn from the above data is that while an increase in dairy emissions per hectare can be seen, especially in the years after milk quota abolition, there is relative stability in emissions intensity per hectare across the other systems.

However, on the flip side, the report also draws attention to the findings that show emissions per euro of output generated are significantly higher across cattle and sheep farms over the years considered.

The report notes that these results are reflective of the greater financial returns available from dairying and the lower emissions associated with non-livestock orientated tillage systems.

The data used in the study is from the 2012 to 2017 period and was sourced from the Teagasc National Farm Survey.