An updated marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) for ammonia emissions has been published by Teagasc.

The publication called ‘An Analysis of the Cost of the Abatement of Ammonia Emissions in Irish Agriculture to 2030’ outlines the steps that can be taken to reduce ammonia emissions from Irish agriculture and the costs of achieving this.

The analysis estimates the potential to abate national ammonia emissions from agriculture up to 2030.

Tackling ammonia emissions

This report is an update from the 2015 Teagasc report which was the first of its kind to quantify the abatement potential of a range of ammonia mitigation measures, as well as their associated costs.

Head of the Teagasc Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme John Spink, said: “This analysis outlines the most cost-effective pathways to meet future ammonia emission targets which were negotiated as part of the amended Clean Air Policy Package.

“The requirement to reduce ammonia emissions is urgent, both in terms of compliance with the National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD), and as a way to reduce losses of agricultural nitrogen.”

Environmental researcher with Teagasc Johnstown Castle Dominika Krol said: “Improving nitrogen use efficiency is a key focus for improving farm efficiency and sustainability, as well as reducing the ammonia, nitrate and greenhouse gas footprint of agriculture.

Under the baseline business-as-usual scenario, agricultural ammonia emissions are projected to increase by 9% by 2030 relative to the 2005 level, if mitigation actions are not adopted by farmers.

Economist in the Teagasc agricultural economics and farm surveys department Cathal Buckley, said: “Compared to a future where no mitigation measures are deployed to address emissions, it was found that by 2030 approximately 15,260t of ammonia could be abated on average each year at a net cost of €10.86 million per annum.”

A key finding of the report is that 80% of the mitigation potential can be achieved by the full implementation of two mitigation pathways.

The first is a switch from traditional chemical fertilisers to protected urea formulations and the second is a switch from slurry application by the splash plate method to low-emission slurry spreading techniques such as a trailing shoe or hose.

The latest document was prepared by the Teagasc Gaseous Emission Working Group.