An international greenhouse gas and animal agriculture conference is coming to Dublin next week and its main aim is to discuss the latest research on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emission from agriculture, in particular methane gases from cows.

The 5th Greenhouse Gas and Animal Agriculture (GGAA) scientific conference, taking place in University College Dublin (UCD) from 23 to 26 June, was launched this evening by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney TD.

The conference is being organised by Teagasc and UCD, and supported by the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and the Ministry for Primary Industries. More than 400 delegates from up to 40 countries are set to  attend.

The upcoming think-in will bring leading international scientists to present up-to-date research findings on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Globally animal agriculture contributes significantly to agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists estimate that gas produced by flatulent livestock accounts for up to 4per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions. This is also the case in Ireland because of the size and importance of the beef and dairy industries in the economy.

“Generally Irish dairy and beef farmers are very good at producing milk and beef with a low carbon footprint, but we must continue to improve and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with milk and beef production.  This is important both for the national inventory of GHG emissions and also because food retailers and consumers are increasingly interested to know that producers are working to improve their emissions profile,” said Conference Chairman, Dr Frank O’Mara from Teagasc.

Announcing details of the upcoming conference, Minister Coveney said: “The challenge of limiting greenhouse gas emissions is a high priority for Ireland. We must work to ensure that the ambitious targets for green growth in Food Harvest 2020 can be met while also achieving our greenhouse gas emissions targets. Only through research and innovative new ways of producing food can we reduce emissions from our animal production systems while increasing output.

Conference Secretary Dr Tommy Boland from UCD said leading researchers at the conference will deal with topics such as methane emissions from ruminants, emissions from manure, how to assess emissions from farm systems and how solutions can be put into practice. “The conference is highly relevant for Ireland and Irish scientists will share and exchange information with its international colleagues,” he added.

The conference was last held in Banff, Canada in 2010, and previous conferences were in New Zealand, Switzerland and Japan.   

Pictured (from left): Alexander Evans, Head of School, Dean of Agricultural Scciences, UCD; Dr Shane Colgan, EPA; Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture; and Frank O’Mara, Teagasc ; at the announcement of the GGAA 2013 that takes place in UCD  from 23-26th of June 2013 Photo: Johnny Bambury