The director of Teagasc, the agriculture development organisation, has said that it is necessary to verify the accuracy of the measurement of methane emissions.
Professor Frank O’Meara told RTÉ radio’s News at One that the levels of methane emissions from the national herd could actually be lower than figures being used at present.
Such figures were based on studies from 20 years ago, he said. Teagasc has been measuring methane emissions on its research farm and has found that over time with a higher standard of grass and herd management methane emissions had lowered.
Another mechanism for lowering methane levels was bringing cattle to slaughter weight at an earlier stage (three months sooner) which shortens their life span and the length of time they are emitting methane.
Prof O’Meara added that emissions could be reduced quickly by moving away from chemical fertilizers. This was “low hanging fruit” and it was important to focus on what could be done now.
Farmers needed to “buy in” into the changes necessary and there were options available to them. However, it was important to ensure that statistics in relation to methane emissions were accurate.