The environmental challenges are the biggest issues facing farmers and the agriculture industry over the next three years. The Teagasc Statement of Strategy 2021 – 2024, published this week, reflects those challenges and outlines the actions planned by the organisation to assist farmers and the wider sector to adapt and respond to these challenges.

This Strategy commits to establishing a National Agricultural Sustainability Research and Innovation Centre at Johnstown Castle in County Wexford. This will complement and build on the work of the existing Teagasc Environmental Research Centre which is currently located there.

Teagasc Chairman Liam Herlihy said; “The environmental agenda is challenging in terms of reducing and adapting to gaseous emissions, improving water quality and enhancing farm biodiversity. Our science has led to the creation of greenhouse gas and ammonia Marginal Abatement Cost Curves. This science underpins public policy. But research doesn’t stand still. Our scientists are also looking to develop future technologies to address the climate challenge.”

Teagasc also plans to establish a National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory which will in future contribute to reducing national net emissions as well as laying the scientific foundations for potential “carbon farming”.

The Signpost Programme – Farmers for Climate Action, was recently launched and will be the main driver for the implementation of actions by Irish farmers to reduce emissions. It’s a Teagasc led initiative involving a partnership of almost 40 companies and organisations from the Irish agri-food sector, along with Irish farmers, that have come together for climate action.

The ASSAP Programme and the Agricultural Catchments Programme are already well established and underpin the Teagasc strategy to address water quality. Working in conjunction with partner organisations, these will continue over the next three years.

In the tillage sector, Teagasc will focus on reducing protein imports with the substitution of Irish grown alternatives while also exploiting niche opportunities for the production of high value crops. Over the period of this strategy it’s intended to establish a Brewing and Distilling Centre at the crops research centre, Oak Park.

Teagasc plans to demonstrate a low intensity profitable blueprint for suckling. A dairy-beef demonstration farm to promote dairy beef is also to be established, which will form part of an advisory campaign to promote dairy beef production.

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said; “the overriding ambition of the organisation for the next three years is to make sustainability ‘front and centre’ of all of our activities. We espouse a holistic concept of sustainability that enshrines four dimensions: economic, social, environmental and innovation. Supporting farmers and food companies to innovate lies at the core of delivering on the ambitions for sustainability that are set out in Farm to Fork, the Programme for Government and AgClimatise.“

The low income and profitability challenges facing many farm enterprises is acknowledged with strategies outlined to assist producers to improve returns. Diversification options, that could suit some farmers will be explored and supported through the advisory service.

The full Teagasc Statement of Strategy 2021 – 2024 can be viewed at: https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2021/Teagasc-Statement-of-Strategy.pdf