The publication of the first Smart Farming progress report shows a significant overshoot of targets for improving farm returns and enhancing the environment, marking a very successful 12 months for the programme, according to the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) which is leading this voluntary initiative in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
One thousand farmers will have participated in the Smart Farming programme by the end of 2017, with detailed resource efficiency assessments completed on 38 farms. The programme’s target this year was to achieve an average cost saving of €5,000 and a reduction of 5-7 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions for each participating farm. Both have been surpassed, says the IFA.
The headline results are as follows:
- Average cost saving on farms of €8,700;
- 10% average greenhouse gas emissions reduction;
- Soil fertility accounted for 47% of the savings; and
- Grassland management was the next highest saving at 21 per cent.
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten said: “Collaborative initiatives such as Smart Farming are crucial to delivering a sustainable recovery, through its dual mandate of improving farm returns while enhancing the environment. Smart Farming works and it is making a real difference for farm families, their communities and the wider environment. This is the message that I will share with my EU colleagues when I speak at Bonn 2017 UN Climate Change Conference next month.”
IFA president, Joe Healy, said he was greatly encouraged by the results from the first progress report and he said the ambition of Smart Farming is now to build on this.
“There is a double dividend here for farmers and wider communities: improving farm returns and enhancing the environment through better use of resources.”
"The programme, led by our National Environment Committee, is a real example of how farmers themselves are creating their own solutions to addressing the dual challenges of income and the environment."
Laura Burke, EPA director, said the work of Smart Farming is an example of practical leadership in the transition to a low-carbon and resource efficient economy.
“It provides an opportunity for the resource efficiency measures identified to be adopted more widely and for promoting enduring behaviour that will benefit the whole community.”
Link to the Report: https://www.ifa.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/IFA-Smart-Farming-Progress-Report-2017.pdf