Bord Bia auditors gather data during the audit process through the Sustainability Survey as part of the Sustainable Assurance Schemes for beef, lamb and dairy. This information enables Bord Bia to assess the environmental performance of quality assured farms via a carbon footprint calculation.
The data gathered is now being used to generate a new farmer feedback report which includes a summary of farm performance under the following headings: General Farm Performance, Carbon Footprint, Greenhouse Gases, Nutrient Management, Grassland Management and Farm Health and Safety. The reported data will compare current farm performance against changes since the last audit and similar production systems.
The purpose of the new farmer feedback report will be to demonstrate to members how their farm inputs and activities contribute to GHG production and will contain advice and feedback on how to mitigate against these emissions and improve production efficiencies. The advisory feedback is formulated in collaboration with Teagasc and will focus measures set out in the Teagasc MACC curve.
Emissions from fertilizer occur when fertilizer is applied and interactions with the environment (sunlight, water etc) lead to losses of N and Ammonia to the atmosphere and soil.
The application of Treated Urea in place of C.A.N and straight Urea can reduce GHG emissions and Ammonia losses. A 71% reduction in nitrous oxide emissions can be achieved using protected urea.
The use of soil test results can be used to identify Lime, N, P and K requirements of your soil and a Nutrient Management Plan can be used to ensure that optimal soil fertility is maintained.
Emissions from feed occur in the production and utilisation of imported feed (Concentrates) onto the farm. Emissions can be driven by the individual ingredients of concentrates such as Soy sourced from South America. Feed emissions can be offset by improving grass quality and utilization in the herd thus reducing the need for imported feed in the animal’s diet.
General Farm Emissions include emissions related to electricity use, fuel use etc. The use of low energy lighting and the consideration of renewable technologies can reduce emissions related to electricity consumption.
The largest proportion of emissions in livestock systems is methane as a result of digestion of feed in the animal’s gut. An increase in animal numbers can increase methane emissions however focus on improving animal productivity, improved grass yield and utilization and maintaining good herd health can help manage these emissions.
Emissions from manure occur due to the storage and spreading of slurry and the excretion of manure during grazing.
The use of a Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment i.e. Trailing Shoe, can be used to decrease the loss of nitrogen to the atmosphere at time of spreading. The application of slurry close to the surface of the soil on mild days with little sunshine results in greater availability of N that can be taken up by the grass roots. The greatest value of the Nitrogen in slurry is available to the soil in spring, Teagasc recommend to aim for 70% of slurry applied in spring.
It will be important to factor in the increased utilisation of N from slurry and reduce chemical N accordingly. Where there is a difficulty using trailing shoe, trailing hose or umbilical systems should be considered.
Origin Green is a major Bord Bia initiative involving Ireland’s farmers, manufacturers and retailers in a journey towards sustainable food and drink production. All farms that are part of the Sustainable Quality Assurance Scheme are members of Origin Green.
Bord Bia offer a number of resources to help you prepare for your upcoming audit, survey questionnaire and closing out audits