Ireland to step up ‘carbon farming’ with key role for farmers in capturing emissions



The government will step up efforts to bring carbon cultivation to Ireland, a key part of which is capturing greenhouse gases in soils.

Carbon cultivation is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide and storing it in soils, crop roots, wood and leaves to help reduce climate change.

The role of the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory (Nasco), created by Teagasc in 2020, is strengthened to monitor soils and establish benchmarks on levels of carbon trapped in soils. Ultimately, it is hoped that farmers will be rewarded by having better soil quality.

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has allocated an additional 2.7 million euros to the observatory to purchase additional greenhouse gas monitoring equipment and to increase the range and type of soil and land uses. land monitored.

Nasco will take samples from selected farms and regularly monitor carbon levels. It is considered “a nature-based solution” to tackle the climate crisis because of its proven ability to store atmospheric carbon.

“This investment of more than 2.7 million euros to expand the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory reaffirms my commitment to provide the research and data necessary to support the development of a carbon agriculture model that targets and rewards actions that remove carbon and store it in our soils, ”said McConalogue.

The investment will benefit agriculture and society as a whole, he said, through a better understanding of our greenhouse gas emissions “and highlighting the avenues through which we can achieve significant emission reductions ”.

He added: “Carbon cultivation is an area that will become a crucial part of the future of agriculture in this country. It will be an opportunity for our farmers to derive a new source of income for their farm.

Verification

To reward farmers for the climate actions they take, a well-functioning carbon farming framework that offers trust, verification and certification is essential, said McConalogue.

He established a working group, chaired by officials from his department with expertise from across government, to examine the key requirements of the framework.

It will assess existing knowledge related to baseline data, make recommendations on ways forward to address knowledge gaps, assess future audit requirements, and consider the development of voluntary carbon codes. It will also examine the possibility of mobilizing private finance through public / private partnerships and governance structures in line with best practices.

Mr McConalogue and Minister of State for Regional Planning and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett welcomed the publication by the European Commission of its policy document Sustainable Carbon Cycles. This underlines the importance of the development and large-scale deployment of decarbonization solutions, both technical and land-based, essential to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Senator Hackett said: “This publication clarifies a number of important areas for farmers, landowners and foresters who have called for initiatives that support their participation in voluntary carbon markets.

His department has been involved in similar initiatives under the Woodland Environmental Fund and the agroforestry program. “We can clearly see the benefit to participants and the government of encouraging not only tree planting on the farm, but a wide range of carbon-producing practices. ”

Monitoring

Teagasc has begun intensive monitoring of carbon emissions and removals on a range of Irish soils, “placing Ireland at the international forefront in terms of understanding, supporting and rewarding farmers for practices that create carbon stores in our soils, ”said Mr. McConalogue.

Teagasc Environmental, Soil and Land Use Research Officer Dr Karl Richards said the expansion of the observatory “will provide the research community in Ireland with research facilities of pushes to better refine agricultural emissions and identify new mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and will put Ireland at the forefront of European research into carbon sequestration. ”


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