A workshop at Gurteen College, Co. Tipperary hosted by the new Teagasc Climate Centre and the ReWet project (Teagasc and University of Galway) continues today (Thursday, May 11) to provide an insight into rewetting land.
The ‘Grassland Peat Agriculture Workshop’ brought together 60 people yesterday (Wednesday, May 10) and will conclude today at a demonstration farm hosted by the FarmCarbon European Innovation Partnership (EIP) in Offaly.
Dr. Florence Renou-Wilson from University College Dublin (UCD) presented the latest estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the workshop.
Teagasc said she highlighted the “importance of considering not only nutrient status of the peat drainage depth but also grassland management intensity”.
Dr. Pat Tuohy of Teagasc said that “the management of grassland peat soils at farm scale requires a range of measures to ensure appropriate land uses are promoted and carbon storage is optimised”.
He explained that there remains a lack of clarity around rewetting at farm scale and its “implications for future management”.
It was outlined that grasslands on peat soils are estimated to cover 339,000ha and are estimated to account for emissions of up to nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year.
Teagasc said that “this estimate is highly uncertain” and relies upon a number of assumptions regarding the areal extent, nutrient status, drainage status and the emission factor for agricultural peat soils.
“Each of these assumptions needs to be urgently refined to improve the emissions estimates and identify what farmers can do to reduce these emissions,” Teagasc said.
Political decisions have been taken in Denmark to rewet 58% (100,000ha) of the agricultural peatland by 2030.
Poul Erik Lærke from Aarhus University, presented how their mitigation potential is assessed and its scientific evidence.
A similar target of 80,000ha with reduced management intensity is included the 2022 Irish Climate Action Plan.
Prof. Chris Evans from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology provided an overview of research on lowland agricultural peatlands in the UK.
It suggested that every 10cm of drainage increases GHG emissions by around 5t of CO2/ha/yr and that agricultural peatlands as a whole are responsible for 2% of the UK’s entire GHG emissions.
This is part of Teagasc’s new climate centre, which aims to bring along “almost ready” and “early stage” technologies.
It aims to “address Ireland’s wider environmental objectives to improve water quality, reduce ammonia emissions and improve biodiversity”.