Teagasc aiming for 15% reduction in dairy emissions intensity by 2027

Teagasc is aiming to reduce emissions intensity in the dairy sector by 15% by 2027, according to its grassland science research officer.

Speaking today (Wednesday, November 25) during the Teagasc Virtual Dairy Conference, Brendan Horan said that a reduction in emissions intensity of that scale would bring Ireland to 65% of the EU average in terms of emissions intensity from dairy.

Furthermore, in that case, Ireland’s emissions intensity would be around a third of the global average for milk production, and could be as low as one-sixth or one-seventh of the emissions intensity associated with milk production seen in some of the markets Ireland exports to.

According to Horan, this will be achieved through continued improvements in pasture-based systems, and increasing productivity of animals, with Teagasc saying that productivity per cow will increase by 12% to 2027.

This, in turn, will involve continued improvements on genetics and increased focus on grazed grass utilisation.

Multi-species swards are expected to play a significant role in this, with a focus on more legumes in swards. It is expected that this will reduce requirements for chemical fertiliser, Horan said.

Starting in January, Teagasc will begin a research project involving animals exclusively on multi-species swards.

Biodiversity

During his remarks at the virtual conference, Horan spoke extensively about biodiversity, highlighting that grassland farms such as those in Ireland are more suited to supporting biodiversity than other types of systems used on the continent.

“[Biodiversity] wasn’t a big focus up until now, and now that focus is on lifting the quality of those habitats and putting in extra habitats. We know as we improve those habitats and improve their quality, we can lift the ecology around them,” he said.

We’re entering a really interesting period now where there will be more of an ecological focus in what we can sustain in terms of [wildlife] species diversity in our systems.

“I’d be very comfortable that we can [achieve this]. Grassland farms naturally support much higher levels of biodiversity. It’s about quantifying that and supporting it for the future,” Horan added.