Cut emissions on sheep farms
Teagasc has published a document which outlines 12 steps that sheep farmers could embrace to reduce gaseous emissions on their enterprises.
Its release follows the publication of a 12-step plan for suckler-beef farmers to tackle gaseous emissions, as published by That’s Farming in this news article.
Speaking on Teagasc’s Ovicast, Tom Coll, said:
“Some of these steps will require a change of mindset, while many others are common practice on sheep farms.”
“The adoption of all the steps will not only increase farm income but will also improve the farm from an environmental and animal welfare perspective.”
“In brief, we could nearly break down the steps into three major areas into the use of the assets and your inputs.”
“We are looking at the more efficient use of our most important asset, and that is land, where farmers are feeding their livestock on.”
“Next, we are looking at the actual livestock on the farm, and in this case, it is the ewe and getting the most out of her as possible, thereby increasing output.”
“Then, we are looking at more efficient use of inputs that we are putting in on the farm and maybe a change in some of the inputs that they are putting in,” Coll concluded.
The state agency’s advice for sheep farmers is as follows:
- Use protected urea – Apply protected urea instead of CAN/straight urea;
- Apply lime – Identify fields low in pH using soil analysis. Teagasc research shows that for every €1 you spend on lime, farmers could get a ROI of between €4-€7.
- Build or maintain soil fertility – Continue to use P & K fertilisers such as 18:6:12. Act on your soil sample results;
- Use 100% LESS – Apply slurry in spring/early summer using LESS – Low Emission Slurry Spreading technology;
- Reduce chemical N by 10ka/ha – Apply lime, incorporate clover and make the best use of your FYM/slurry;
- Better grassland management – Use paddocks for rotational grazing;
- Improve animal health – Create a flock health plan;
- Improve ewe replacement quality – Use €uro-star sheep index;
- Target high prolificacy – Target 1.55 lambs reared per ewe/year and over 90% of hill sheep in-lamb;
- Reduce age at first lambing – Lamb ewes for the first time at 12 months;
- Finish lambs earlier – Improve breeding and grassland management. Weigh your stock regularly;
- Incorporate clover – Incorporating 5kg/ha (2kg/ac) will replace up to 100kg/ha (80 units/ac) of chemical N/year.