Carbon navigator to get a dairy run out

Teagasc is to launch a carbon-counting software programme that will enable farmers to rate themselves against the most carbon efficient farms in the country.

The Carbon Navigator, which is currently in prototype form, is aimed at calculating how carbon efficient individual dairy farms are.

The software allows farmers to identify aspects of farm management that are known to effectively reduce the carbon-footprint of their produce.

These include herd EBI, the length of the grazing season, nitrogen management, slurry management and storage, and energy consumption.

The programme will calculate the farm’s performance in each area and then compare it to the performance of the top 10pc of similar farm enterprises in similar areas and physical environments. It will also allow farmers to set their own future targets.

The pilot roll-out of the Carbon Navigator for dairy farms is planned for mid-2012 and will be followed by Carbon Navigators for beef, sheep and tillage enterprises.

Pat Murphy, head of environment knowledge transfer in Teagasc, said the focus for farmers should be carbon reduction through management practices and not expensive individual farm-by-farm carbon counting procedures.

Europe’s Joint Research Council last year ranked Ireland second in Europe for carbon efficiency in milk production, only marginally behind Austria. Ireland was ranked fifth in Europe for carbon efficient beef production.

“It is possible for Ireland to become Europe’s most carbon efficient dairy producer,” said Mr Murphy. “That is our objective.”

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