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Teagasc Releases 2022 Sustainability Report for Sustainability Month

Photo by Helena Lopes via Pexels

Revealing positive strides in Irish farm economics and reduced greenhouse gas emissions underscoring the ongoing need for eco-friendly practices



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10 October 2023

Teagasc has published its 2022 Sustainability Report, coinciding with the launch of Sustainability Month. The report utilises data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey, tracking the progress of Irish dairy, cattle, sheep, and tillage farms in economic, environmental, and social sustainability over the last decade.

Dr. Cathal Buckley, the report’s lead author, highlighted the strong economic performance of the dairy sector. Despite increased dairy output and farm incomes, the report notes that, when considering family labour, Dairy and Tillage farms show comparable income levels, outperforming dry stock farm systems.

Average Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions across dairy, cattle, sheep, and tillage farms notably decreased in 2022 by using less chemical Nitrogen (N) fertilisers. The report underscores ongoing efforts, with 34% and 75% of slurry on cattle and dairy farms respectively applied using Low Emissions Slurry Spreading (LESS) equipment in 2022. However, the adoption of eco-friendly practices, like transitioning to lower GHG emission fertilisers, remains low.

Trevor Donnellan, head of the agricultural economics and farm surveys department, Teagasc, said: “From a socio-economic point of view, the improvement in farm incomes in 2022 makes a larger share of farms sustainable in an economic context.” 

Although herd sizes increased on dairy farms in 2022, on average GHG emissions on a whole farm and per hectare basis declined, largely due to a significant decrease in chemical N fertiliser use on dairy farms. However, ammonia emissions increased due to increased use of straight urea fertiliser on dairy farms.

Professor Frank O’Mara, director, Teagasc, said: “The Sustainability Report demonstrates how progress is already being made, and highlights where further improvements can be achieved. Critically the report demonstrates the multi-dimensional nature of sustainability in an economic, environmental and social context.”


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