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How has your farm been affected?

  • 19-11-2023 6:55pm
    Registered Users Posts: 2

    Hi All, 

    I am studying a master’s degree in design innovation in Maynooth University.  I am currently undertaking a research project on “how to start a conversation with the farming community about climate adaptation”. 

    From my research to date, it feels like the narrative around climate change is focused on all the things that farmers can’t have, on all the things that farmers need to stop doing etc.  I feel that we really need to change this narrative to how Irish farmers can benefit from engaging with sound environmental practices. 

    In that vein I am reaching out to this online community to get an understanding about the climate challenges individual farmers are having today. 

    I would really love to hear from you to get an understanding of what’s happening on your farm in terms of climate adaptation. 

    I really appreciate you taking the time. 




  • Registered Users Posts: 50 ✭✭adriant900

    One issue on communication is the "them verse us" angle of many debates. The farm lobby groups or independent rural TDs go into the media to represent farmers and debate environmentalists. The farming side usually do a terrible job at representing me as a farmer, they are poorly spoken and come across as climate change denial, objectiving to all change. They are speaking to their base looking for votes but are deliberately causing division for their own benefit.

    You ask what effect climate adaption is having on our farm, it is costing us money, forcing investment in technology such as Low Emmission Slurry Spreading (and then a new tractor to drive the new machine). It is also costing money in reducing productivity such as less fertiliser spreading and lowering of the nitrates derogation limit.

    Not what you asked but climate change is also clearly visible on farm in the last few years which is very scary. We have drought every summer to some extent followed by months of record breaking rainfall. That is also directly costing us money.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,315 ✭✭✭White Clover

    Well said. You were much more diplomatic than I could be.

    They started by calling it Global warming but got called out on that so they changed it to climate change. You'd swear the climate never changed before!

    It is now an industry and we even have people doing a masters on it! You couldn't make it up!

  • Registered Users Posts: 2 alexfarmingproject

    Thanks for all of these responses, very appreciated.

    I completely agree that we don’t understand what its like to be a farmer in Ireland and that is why I think it’s important to ask these questions. 

    The project is about starting a conversation. So that people can learn more about what it’s like for you personally as farmers. We aren’t suggesting any solutions. Its not a problem some college students will be able to solve. 

    What we want to get out of it is to learn your side of the story and argue how going to the people affected is a better way to start solving a problem than government policies, regulations or fear mongering.

    Thanks again, all of this is very relevant to the points we are trying to make in our project.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,400 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    @adriant900 on the drought and heavy rain issue. We have always had pockets of drought and wet horrible years. We must look at the way this data is being gathered, up to 15 years ago this was done by human reading a rainfall gauge or a thermometer, now we have to the second for the same day. This is leading for a rise in reporting of extremes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,789 ✭✭✭alps

    Hey Alex,

    Stonewall gives a very good synopsis of what many farmers are doing (mirrored exactly here).

    I feel there are 2 things that farmers need to focus on..

    1..The logistical changes required to cope with weather changes, longer periods of slurry storage and buffer feed requirements coupled with shorter planting and harvesting slots. I do see livestock farming being the most resilient form of food production going forward.

    2. Emissions reduction. As we have been nailed on the methane emissions arguement, soley to buy time for the rest of society to get to terms with reducing its CO2 emissions, we have no choice but to work towards the 25% reduction.

    If we take on board the MACC advise, we will be on our way to acheiving this and should start adding to our recent reductions anually.

    The gap between what our industry and the rest of society will be acheiving will grow massively. I have absolutely no belief that countries/states/fuel companies that own and control fossil fuel reserves will ever settle at leaving them in the ground. We will make no headway here.

    Farmers will have another opportunity coming up to 2030 to force a review of the way methane is being counted.

    Respiration (CO2) from people, animals, pets, birds...indeed all beings is not included in inventories for reduction. This is because the only source of carbon that a being emits in CO2 came from the food eaten and the food had previously removed the CO2 from the atmosphere...

    Where is the source of carbon in methane from livestock?

    You got it...

    Methane should not be included..


    If we reduce biogenic methane, reduce greenhouse gas stock and create an allowance for further fossil fuel emissions.

    Therefore we need to count's the only solution on the table..

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  • Registered Users Posts: 957 ✭✭✭minerleague

    Have raised this point before but on point 1 above have you increased cattle numbers to eat grass not eaten by cattle killed earlier? Badly stated but overall farm emissions remain the same surely. I kill suckler bred cattle at 28 - 30 months, now if I kill them at 24 months 30% of my farm would be idle if I keep same number of cows. As an aside killing cattle younger is a more intensive approach - cutting silage May, dairy farm style paddock grazing etc. not much room for sward diversity IMO

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,400 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    Slaughter age has dropped from 29 months to an average of about 25-26 months. This has reduced methane but I have also decided to carry 15% more stock. On the balance it's a small reduction on my farm, but as a country it would be huge

    All of the above of May silage, paddocks and trying to be be efficient have been the backbone of leaving profit before SFP for the past 20 years

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,571 ✭✭✭✭Water John

    I think a feeling of fairness is also a key in the whole equation. We are being asked to do the early heavy lifting because of the half life of methane. As mentioned above lots of people jetting off to Barcelona for a weekend. To add to the fumes TMK the aviation fuel is tax free.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,094 ✭✭✭FintanMcluskey

    I can't think of another highly technical, capital intensive, specialized industry where Joe Public thinks he knows better than those who live it every day as their job for 40 to 70 years.

    The ignorance of the general public and of gov/lobby bodies is only exceeded by their arrogance.

    I keep trying to tease out where the general public think they have more knowledge than farmers? Your not the only poster to make such a claim but I've yet to see any evidence of "Joe public" thinking he knows better.

    It's pointless isolationism of farmers vs "Joe public" by farmers themselves and only serves to polarize the argument.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,272 ✭✭✭Markcheese

    I suppose it depends on metrics used ,

    Your bullock in the freezer isnt pushed , would be considered low intensity, low input - but low output,too ,

    If you include the carbon sequestration of the pastures he fed on , then your system is probably carbon negative ,

    But are all stock the same (size - feed to weight efficency blah blah blah) ? Are all pastures counted the same , how about farm management and the yard -use of plastics - run off , building ,imbedded carbon in concrete , diesel use on the farm ect ect ,

    Most farmers are going to strive to be as productive/ efficent as possible given the limitations of regulation ,market forces ect ,

    Anyway its not one size fits all , never really has been,

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,840 ✭✭✭✭Donald Trump

    It's not ransom. It's alerting to the possible/likely consequences of continued unjustified attacks on the sector. At a time when the average age is about 60 years and the government aren't doing a whole lot to make it attractive for a younger generation to take over.

  • Registered Users Posts: 50 ✭✭adriant900

    There is a few parts to it, when Teagasc talk about lowering age of slaughter they are not encouraging cattle to be pushed with grain they are talking about what Mr.stonewall is doing, efficiency at every point, good herd health, good grass management etc.

    Cattle produce less methane per day grazing grass than fed indoors and they produce less methane eating good quality clover/PRG than old more natural swards of grass. On the flip side the old natural swards of grass will lightly be much better for biodiversity. So they produce less methane per day and are alive for less days so the emissions per kg of beef is significantly less.

    Hopefully I don't get too much abuse for the above facts

  • Registered Users Posts: 431 ✭✭PoorFarmer

    "Cattle produce less methane per day grazing grass than fed indoors and they produce less methane eating good quality clover/PRG than old more natural swards of grass. On the flip side the old natural swards of grass will lightly be much better for biodiversity. So they produce less methane per day and are alive for less days so the emissions per kg of beef is significantly less."

    Just wondering where you got this info? I was of the opinion that tannins present in plants of older type pastures (Birds foot trefoil etc.) would be beneficial to methane reduction in the rumen. That's just my uneducated take on things from my own personal reading of how it works. More than willing to be proved wrong on this.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,400 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    We must remember that approx 60% of the calculated GHG in agriculture are produced from rumination of livestock. The only real ways to reduce this is to either reduce our stock levels or move stock through the system quicker.

    The suckler herd is declining, dairying has reached a peak, but every dairy cow will have a calf and a large number will end up in the beef system. With the potential ban on export of calves on the horizon this will only add to the system. Long term the number of stock is not going to plummet to help the reduction of 25%. The only logical way to help achieve this is make sure every animal is as efficient, this will be earlier slaughter and a big bug bear of mine is suckler heifers calving at 3yr old. While I admire @Packrat system, simply having a really low stocking rate and working the payments system will have a short shelf life. Just look at the way a bout of inflation has hit the value of the payments. Compare it to beef price of early 2020, it's ahead by 25%. Holding a large number of cattle to 42 month is not going to cut the mustard for most farming systems. It's simple a niche market. Every day we have an animal on the farm it's a cost, reduce these days and we drive up the margin

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,510 ✭✭✭amacca

    but if I'm efficient, surely I will carry more numbers to increase any profit I get per head....If I allow an animal to age and gain weight naturally then ill be able to carry less animals....I still don't get it. Id need to see systems side by side to see proof. On the face of it an older animal gaining weight naturally off grass would produce less greenhouse on a given area as you could carry less.....they shouldn't be lowering slaughter ages if they want to reduce emissions afaics, + its just another stick to beat farmers with when it comes to price/spec

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,510 ✭✭✭amacca

    but If I move stock through the system quicker...wont I just move more heads through in a given time so where is the reduction in emissions?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,400 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    As a country the quicker we move stock through, its the equivalent of a cutting numbers. Dairy numbers now are stable and potentially falling. Suckler calf numbers are collapsing. Overall all the numbers are falling. Add in an earlier kill on say 50% of stock this will make a good dent into the 65% of Agri GHGs that come from livestock. I'm looking at my own system an it's stable for emissions, with more margin and a slight increase in numbers due to an earlier kill.

    Just look at nitrates figures according to the age of stock. Older than a year it increases, you have a jump at 2 yr old. Similar will apply to livestock with methane. The bigger the animal the more methane it produces. The more bigger the stock you carry the more methane being out out a day. Just look at the KO% of prime heifers to cull cows. Look to the gut fill and this is due to a greater rumen. What type of stock does the factories and consumer want. A carcase weight in the range of 280-340kg. Otherwise the cuts won't fit in the packs.

    As an older generation and other famers cut back due to age and organics. There is an opening here to fill the gap.. How long are were hearing of a potential slaughter premium for u24mths. The way it will happen is the u30mths is going to slip back bit by bit over a decade.

    Earlier adopters of change have a headstart

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,272 ✭✭✭Markcheese

    If for instance marginal farming areas , so mountain sheep ,or very boggy heavy land were removed from commercial farming altogether, so increased payments for whatever environmental measures undertaken ,but no live stock..

    Would that decrease the national methane levels ? While not dropping production massively,

    And for gawd sake reward the farmers who are obviously following the regs - and seriously reducing emissions and environmental impact ,working to improve water quality ect ..

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦