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Trainee Farmer Knowledge and Adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture practices in Ireland

By Eileen Elizabeth OConnorStudent number: 11514803

The thesis is submitted to NUI Galway in part fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, which is a taught postgraduate program within the School of Natural Sciences.

Supervisors: Dr. Charles Spillane, Dr. Peter McKeown & Dr. Kevin KilclineDate of submission: 15/08/2016Table of ContentsDeclaration3Acknowledgements4Abstract5Literature Review6Introduction6Irish Agriculture6Climate Change11Climate-Smart Agriculture and the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve12Carbon Navigator14How the Carbon Navigator works17The Beef Data and Genomics Programme24Common Agricultural Policy24Farmers awareness of and attitude towards climate change25Technology adoption in agriculture27Research Goal & Objectives28Research Objectives28Methodology31Topics covered in the survey31Questionnaire/Survey Design31Statistical Analysis32Results34Section 1: Frequencies34Section 2- Research Questions62Further results analysed67Result 1:67Discussion73Age, Gender and Off-farm occupation73Knowledge, attitudes and opinions73Conclusion76Recommendations76References/ Bibliography77Appendices80Appendix 1: Trainee Farmer Survey80Appendix 2: An account of MAC farm104Appendix 3 Statistics explanations107

DeclarationI hereby declare that this thesis is all my own work, and that I have not obtained a degree in this University, or elsewhere, on the basis of this work.

Acknowledgements

Specific thanks must be given to Colm Duffy for all his help and guidance.

AbstractAnthropogenic climate change has become a public concern in recent years. Ireland depends on its agriculture industry heavily, as Gross Agricultural Output was valued at 7.12 billion (Department of Agriculture 2014). Importance is being placed on increasing agri-sector productivity, yet at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Irish agriculture.Therefore, it is valuable to consider the knowledge, opinions and attitudes of farmers and trainee farmers in Ireland, to get an understanding of their concerns. The major findings from this study are;The younger farmers of today are more concerned about climate change impact in the coming years, older farmers do not seem to be as concerned. 95% of the trainee farmers observed hold a part-time job, yet this does not seem to have an influence on their willingness to engage in on-farm climate change mitigation operations. Climate change awareness also does not seem to have an influence on trainee farmers willingness to engage in on-farm climate change mitigation operations.

Literature ReviewIntroduction

The issue of climate change is one of the most significant challenges being faced in the world today. This is evident by the coming together of different country governments from around the world, in a conference of the parties (COP), to help solidify a reasonable approach to tackling climate change and sustainability issues (Tzemi, Breen et al. 2016). Climate change is occurring at a rapid rate. These changing will inflict serious consequences on Ireland and the world if not dealt with appropriately. Impacts to food security and sustainability would be evident (Lobell, Burke et al. 2008). This is why Ireland needs to figure out ways in which to combat climate change, while remaining at the forefront of agriculture production.

Irish AgricultureIrelands agriculture is centred on a rain-fed, fertile land production system (Department of Agriculture 2014). The total land area of Ireland is 6.9 million hectares. Of this, 4.5 million hectares is used for agriculture, and an additional 730,000 hectares is allocated to forestry (Department of Agriculture 2016). Agriculture has always been important in Ireland. Throughout history, the occupation of Farmer has always been one of the most common among Irish workers. Currently, there is estimated to be around 139,600 family farms in Ireland (see Figure 1). However, as people move away from rural life, the number of people either taking up farming or people inheriting the farm is decreasing. This is representative by the age categories of farmers in 2013 (see Figure 2 below). The national average size of a farm is 32.7 hectares (CSO 2010). At a national level, farmers are getting older. Of the estimated 139,600 farms in Ireland, a quarter of farmers are over the age of 65 years old. 6% are under the age of 35 years old. Young people of Ireland are not as likely to get into farming as their parents or grandparents were. This could be due to lack of interest, emigration, low profit outcomes, or many other variables. At a European level, the number of Irish farmers over the age of 65 (26.5%) is less than the European Union countries average (31.1%) (see Figure 3). When comparing the number of farmers under the age of 35, Ireland had a slightly higher number (6.3%) than the European Union average (6.0%) (see Figure 4).

Figure 1: The number of farms in Ireland and the average farm size, as of 2013.

Figure 2: Responses by participants of the Central Statistics Offices Farm Structures Survey 2013, to the question Farmers age?

Figure 3: Comparing the number of Irish farmers over the age of 65 to the European number of farmers over the age of 65, 2013.

Figure 4: Comparing the number of Irish farmers under the age of 35 to the European number of farmers over the age of 65, 2013.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, state that of the 111,134 farmers in Ireland, only 13% are women (Department of Agriculture 2016). Women have always been involved in Irish farming. However, in recent times they have not been represented as well as they maybe had been in the past. This could be due to the present economic situation, in which one or more occupant in a home may need to seek off-farm employment as well as the family farm (see Figure 5). Findings from the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2014 (see Figure 6), found that 29.8% of farmers and 36.2% of their spouses had an off-farm occupation (Department of Agriculture 2016). According to the National Farm Survey by Teagasc in 2012, around 60% of farmers are considered part-time farmers (Revenue 2015). Figure 5: The number of men and women in agriculture, and their age, 2014.

Figure 6: Farmer or spouse with off-farm employment.

Ireland is over 600% self-sufficient in beef production. As of 2016, the population of Ireland is over 4.7 million people (CSO 2016). According to the June 2015 livestock survey Herd sizes are continuing to rise, with total cattle numbers increasing by almost 3% in 2015 (BordBia 2015). With the abolishment of the Milk Quota in April 2015, dairy cattle numbers are expected to continue to increase. Suckler numbers increased in 2015 for the first time since 2012 (BordBia 2015). Bovine numbers in the EU had a small increase in 2015 (see Figure 7). Ireland is a net exporter of beef, exporting 90% of the beef produced. Of the 90% exported, the United Kingdom receives 41% of all our agri-food and drink exports (BordBia 2016). Of the remaining 59%, other EU member states received just over half, and international markets received the rest (see Figure 8). Irelands agri-food sector is very important for economic sustainability. The 500,000 tonnes of beef exported in 2015 was worth about 2.41 billion and the 178,000 cattle exported was worth about 135 million (BordBia 2016). Total dairy and ingredients exports accumulated to 3.24 billion in 2015.

Figure 7: Global Bovine numbers from the Beef and Livestock Report 2015

Figure 8: Destination of Irelands exports, source Bord Bia, 2016.

Climate Change

In the coming years, the world faces a great challenge- how to produce more food to feed the growing population, while at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture production. The population of the world is expected to rise to 9 billion people by 2050 (Cohen 2003). Food production will have to increase by about 60% (Campbell, Thornton et al. 2014). Increased food production can be achieved through the increasing of yields by farmers (Van Wart, Kersebaum et al. 2013). Also noteworthy is the fact that food consumption patterns are seen to be shifting- people are consuming more meats now than in the past (Campbell, Thornton et al. 2014). Climate change is posing a real problem for agricultural production around the world (Duguma, Wambugu et al. 2014). Severe flooding and drought has been at the forefront of agricultural problems faced by farmers worldwide for many years now (Steenwerth, Hodson et al. 2014). Ireland has not escaped these problems. (Sweeney, Albanito et al. 2008) state that climate change will impact agricultural production in Ireland in the coming years, as winters become wetter and summers become drier, which will not complement Irelands dependency on outdoor productions. This will contribute to biotic and abiotic stresses in plants, resulting in profit losses for Irish farmers (Kumar 2013). But Ireland is not just suffering the effects of climate change; it is also contributing to climate change (Scherr, Shames et al. 2012). Irish agriculture is responsible for around 30% of our national greenhouse gas emissions. The European average is 9% and the global average is 13.5% (Pachauri and Reisinger 2007). Although Ireland has been reducing its emissions in relation to agriculture production in recent years, the sheer amount of agricultural productivity in this country means our emissions are still high in comparison to other sectors, such as industry. This is why it is so important for Ireland to adopt mitigation practices to reduce GHG emissions (McCarthy 2009). Agricultural polici