Scope - Teagasc Agriculture And Food Development Authority

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ScopeTeagasc has defined sustainability as an approach to farming that we can sustain into the foreseeable future.In other words: a way of farming that: 1) will be even more efficient and productive in ten or twenty years thanit is today; and that: 2) will maintain and shape our countryside as a high -quality place in which to work andlive. In the widest sense of the word, sustainability includes farm economics, social equity, and theenvironment:-Economic sustainability means that there is a viable future in farming.Social sustainability means that the benefits of economic sustainability are shared amongst all ofthose who contribute to it.Environmental sustainability means careful and efficient use of natural resources such as water, soiland nutrients; thereby minimising the negative side-effects of farming on our own environment.CapacitySince 1988, Teagasc has developed unrivalled capacity in research, advisory and eduction on sustainability. Asa result, Teagasc is seen as a leading institute in sustainable agriculture, not only in Ireland, but also acrossEurope and indeed the globe.This commitment is reflected in the staff numbers who work on the many aspects of environmentalsustainability (shown above); these include 26 researchers, 20 postgrads, 5 environmental specialists and 36new soils & environment advisors. Approx. 10m was invested in the Sustainability Programme in 2013.Mainstreaming SustainabilityTeagasc provides a unique integrated service tothe agricultural industry, combining research,advisory and education. That means that,through our advisory services, farmers have firsthand access to the latest research breakthroughs. At the same time, the latest findingsare fed directly into the curriculum of Ireland’snext generation of farmers at our colleges.The integrated service is facilitated by Teagasc’sWorking Groups on Sustainability (workinggroups on water quality, greenhouse gases,biodiversity, soils and nutrient efficiency)In this document, we highlight some of the keyactivities and achievements of of ourSustainability Programme.1

The Carbon Navigator“The CarbonNavigator providespractical guidance tofarmers to furtherreduce the carbonfootprint on his or herown unique farm”What is it?The Carbon Navigator is a simple, jargon-free tool that identifies actions forfarmers that will further reduce the carbon footprint and costs on their own farm,taking account of their individual circumstances. Unlike other contemporary‘carbon calculators’, the Carbon Navigator does not compute a ‘carbon-footprint’but focuses on incentivising adoption of best practices to reduce GHG emissionsand increase efficiency and profitability.The Carbon Navigator allows advisors and farmers to set individual targets andambition. It compares ‘like with like’, as it benchmarks each farm against similarfarms on the same soil in the same county.“The CarbonNavigator is a uniquepartnership betweenTeagasc and Bord Bia,combing the strengthsof both organisations”What is involved?The Carbon Navigator was developed jointly by Teagasc and Bord Bia, combing thestrengths of both organisations. It uses data collection from Bord Bia qualityassurance schemes and the relationship between farmer and adviser to improvethe farmers understanding of his/her role in contributing to and mitigating GHGsThe best practices, mitigation options and financial benefits of the Navigator arefirmly based on the ten years of research, collated in Teagasc’s MarginalAbatement Cost Curve.“During 2014, theCarbon Navigator hasbeen rolled outthrough all DiscussionGroups”What is the impact?The Carbon Navigator has facilitated the ‘start of a conversation’ withfarming stakeholders on climate-friendly farming, without jargon or unduerhetoric.It has mainstreamed the main message that “carbon-efficiency economic efficiency”.- The Navigator has attracted attention worldwide, with approaches byNew Zealand, France, The Netherlands and Latvia .Interesting fact:All measures in the Carbon Navigator increase farm income.2

Kildalton Open Source Farm“Kildalton Open SourceFarm will train the nextgeneration of farmers inthe concept and practicalaspects of agriculturalsustainability.”What is it?Ki l dalton Open Source Farm i s a Teagasc/GIIL partnership that demonstrates win:wintechnologies to farmers, policy makers and (national a nd i nternational) industryl eaders at Ki ldalton College. It will:Provi de a unique facility to s howcase a n i ntegrated approach to deliverings us tainable food productionTra i n the next generation of farmers in the concept a nd practical aspects ofa gri cultural sustainability.Showcase GIIL’s pioneering sustainability a genda a nd Teagasc’s l eadershipa nd knowledge base on s ustainable a griculture.“Kildalton will betransformed on a phasedbasis starting with proventechnologies beforemoving on to emergingones”What is involved?The fa rm a t Kildalton college will be tra nsformed in phases over a 7-year period,focus ing on resource use efficiency.Pha s e 1 (year 1): benchmarking of the s ustainability performance of theKi l dalton farm ‘as is’.Pha s e 2 (years 2-3): i mplementation of technologies a nd practices that are“rea dy for roll-out”. Examples include the 5-point plan for nutrientma nagement and implementation of the Ca rbon Navigator.Pha s e 3 (years 4-5): a dapting Kildalton’s i nfrastructure including the farma nd college buildings a nd the ecological i nfrastructure including existingwoodlands a nd hedgerows a nd new areas of agro-forestry to potentiallyprovi de s helter, fuel a nd ti mber for building whilst s equestering carbon a ndprovi ding habitats for biodiversity.Pha s e 4 (years 6-7): i mplementation of emerging technologies, e.g. use ofa utomated distributed s ensors for soil nutrient management.“Kildalton Open SourceFarm will kick-start theadoption of sustainablefarming practices on Irishfarms”What will be the impact?Ki l dalton Open Source Farm will:Ki ck-s tart the knowledge tra nsfer a nd adoption of sustainable farmingpra cti ces and technologies in the region and ultimately nationwide.Provi de evidence to GIIL’s customers of their i ntent to be world l eaders i ns us tainable s ourcing a nd production of milk products.Interesting fact:Kildalton is Ireland’s largest agricultural college with over 500 students takingcourses in Agriculture, Horticulture, Machinery, and Equine Studies.3

Agricultural Catchments Programme“The AgriculturalCatchments Programmeis Europe’s largestoutdoor laboratorysupportingenvironmentally andeconomically sustainablefarming”“In the AgriculturalCatchments, farmers,advisors and researcherswork together as a teamto develop sustainablefarming solutions”“The CatchmentsProgramme hasidentified indicators ofpositive change such asreduced numbers of fieldswith excessive soilphosphorus andimproving lake waterquality”Interesting fact:What is it?The Agricultural Catchments Programme integrates research with farmadvice to support the development of an environmentally andeconomically sustainable agri -food sector.The programme is built on a partnership with 300 farmers in sixintensively farmed catchments across a range of soil/landscapesettings.The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine funds theprogramme which is central to meeting Ireland’s obligations under theNitrates Directive.It is operated by Teagasc which spreads the programme’s outputs to anational and international audience through its disseminationnetwork.What is involved?The programme is pushing out the boundaries of catchment science toevaluate the effectiveness of the nitrates regulations and the role offarming in ensuring that Ireland meets its water quality objectives.By using the latest technologies and high-resolution data, theprogramme has developed a unique capability to develop a deeperunderstanding of the biophysical and socio-economic processes andinteractions in agricultural catchments.Through one-to-one contact between advisors and farmers in thecatchments and consultation at local and national level, stakeholdersplay an active role in the direction and operation of the programme.What is the impact?The Agricultural Catchments Programme and its research findings werepivotal in the 2013 review of Ireland’s NAP and derogation.Nutrient management approaches developed in the programme havebeen adopted in the design of the new Teagasc Online NutrientManagement Planning (NMP) package to be launched in 2015.The programme has identified indicators of positive change such asreduced numbers of fields with excessive soil phosphorus, improvinglake water quality and has identified practices such as earlierapplication of manures which can be extended through the advisoryservice to the broader farming community.The programme has positioned Ireland at the forefront of catchmentscience internationally.On average farmers in the Agricultural Catchments Programme use lessfertiliser phosphorus than they are allowed under the Nitrates Regulations.4

Greenhouse Gas Research‘In Europe, Ireland’semissions profile isuniquely high, and in thedeveloped world, only NewZealand has a higherproportion of emissionsfrom agriculture.’What is it?Irish agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are dominated by methane(from ruminants and manures) and nitrous oxide (from fertiliser and animaldeposition) .While emissions have been falling steadily (-17.6%) since 1998,the sector remains a significant proportion (32%) of total national GHGemissions. Achieving Food Harvest productions, whilst delivering emissionsreductions remains a key sectoral challenge. Teagasc’s approach involves:Developing cost-effective GHG mitigation strategies for livestock andtillage systems to our Soils & Environment advisorsDevelopment of GHG-efficient farm systemsProviding climate-smart decision-support to farmers‘A mosaic of strategies that What is involved?The programme seeks to understanding the key processes involvedcombine improvedin the production of methane and nitrous oxide emissionsefficiencies, low-emissionThe development of key mitigation strategies such a s manuretechnologies and carbonmanagement, fertiliser technologies as well as researching futuresequestration can furthertechnologies and quantifying the carbon sequestration potential ofreduce agricultural GHGagricultural soilsintensity.’Coordinating national GHG research across all research institutionsvia the Agricultural GHG Research Initiative for Ireland‘The Teagasc MarginalAbatement Cost Curve ongreenhouse gases hasunderpinned Irish andEuropean agriculturalemissions policies’Interesting fact:What is the impact?Teagasc have ranked mitigation strategies based on efficacy and economiccost/benefit in a Marginal Abatement Cost Curve. These underpin the CarbonNavigator. Teagasc are engaged in improving the national GHG accountingmethods in order to better reflect agricultural mitigation.Teagasc GHG research has informed national and international policy via DAFM’s 2020 low carbon roadmap for agriculture Position papers to inform EU 2030 Climate PolicyCarbon-Neutrality Report: A roadmap to reduce emissions by 2050Teagasc’s research on methane emissions from cows was featured in NationalGeographic Magazine in January 2013 (picture above).5

Sustainable Intensification of Animal Production“Cost-effective mitigationstrategies are based onproduction efficiencies, i.e.achieving higher outputper unit input.”What is it?Farm sustainability is a key focus of the expansion processes associated withthe Food Harvest 2020 strategy. Efficient animal production is a cornerstoneof both economic and environmental sustainability. Decades of research onefficiency in livestock production have allowed us to:Develop models capable of estimating the sustainability of theproduction systems in a verifiable manner, thus providing abenchmark of change over time.Develop cost-effective mitigation strategies based on productionefficiencies, i.e. achieving higher output per unit input. This willresult in an increase in overall sustainability over time.“Teagasc is widening thesustainability focus toinclude energy, water,biodiversity and nutrientuse efficiency”What is involved?Teagasc has developed a number of complex mechanistic modelsthat are capable to quantifying the GHG emissions .These models are used by Bord Bia for quantifying the carbonfootprint of beef and dairy products.Currently Teagasc is widening that sustainability focus to includeenergy, water, biodiversity and nutrient use efficiency through aDepartment of Agriculture Stimulus funded project (E-Ruminant).What is the impact?Teagasc have developed the carbon footprint models that have beenInternationally certified and included in the Bord Bia AuditprogrammesTeagasc have refocused the international debate around emissionsintensity rather than the reduction of absolute emissions.Teagasc are key contributors to international working groups. Forexample Irish methodologies are now used in the new FAO carbonfootprinting (LEAP) guidelines and the methodologies of theInternational Dairy Federation.“Teagasc developed thescientific modelsunderpinning the Bord BiaSustainability programme”Interesting fact:Irish milk and pork have the lowest carbon footprint in the European Union,while Irish beef has the fifth lowest footprint.6

Nutrient Management Planning“The Teagasc “Greenbook” on nutrient adviceprovides advisors andfarmers with theknowledge to underpinsustainable production”“Nutrient Managementonline will revolutionisesustainable soil fertilitymanagement on farms”“Nutrient ManagementPlanning has enabledfarmers to targetexpensive fertilisers inareas which result inproduction benefits andavoid environmentallosses”Interesting fact:What is it?Nutrient Management Planning is the corner stone of efficient and economicallyviable production systems on all Irish farms. Management of soil fertilityunderpins farm productivity while helping to reduce the loss of valuablenutrients to the environment. As a resul