With increasing pressure being put on agriculture to lower emissions James Humphreys from Teagasc outlined some of the measured used on the research farm, Solofarm.
James began by stating: ”Following rapid expansion, there is a massive challenge to lower the environmental impact of dairy farming.
”At Solohead farm, the goal was to minimise chemical nitrogen (N) usage and maximising N usage efficiency to lower nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions.”
According to James, nitrous oxide accounts for 35% of emissions from Irish farms – so lowering this is important.
What can be done to lower emissions?
James outlined some simple steps that Solohead farm has used, that can be adopted by farmers to reduce emission from farms further. These management practices include:
James stated that: ”Achieving and maintaining optimum soil fertility, particularly the soil lime status, ensures that the soil is in the optimum fertility level.
”The farm uses the trailing shoe for spreading slurry with the majority of the slurry spread in the spring, when the soil can make the most use from the nutrients.
”The incorporation of clover into swards is important to fix N, there are no emissions created by N captured by the cover and used by the plants. When it is necessary to spread N, it is spread solely using protected urea,” he added.
Clover has a higher temperature requirement than grass for growth and therefore chemical N only needed to be applied in February, March and April to compensate for this.
Lowering emission results
Using these practices Solohead farm has been able to maintain pasture and milk output/production from the farm.
But, has also been able to reduce carbon footprint created by its milk production by 35% compared to national average. Similarly, the farm has been able to lower ammonia by 45%.
James concluded by stating: ”It is important for marketing of our products, that we continue to lower the emissions produced by the sector and continue to improve water quality.”