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- PublicationBenchmarking P and N use efficiency in Irish farm systems to motivate practice changeAgriculture faces the challenge of achieving sustainable, profitable production while maintaining environmental quality. In Ireland, for example, ambitious national growth targets for agricultural output have been set but, at the same time, Ireland, like other countries, must meet international environmental obligations in terms of water quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
- PublicationBenchmarking Nutrient Use on Irish Farms 2012-2015Methods of nutrient accounting are used to quantitatively measure the relationship between nutrient inputs and outputs representing indicators of pressure on the environment. In agriculture these environmental pressures come predominantly from two nutrient inputs, Nitrogen and Phosphorous potentially presenting losses to the atmosphere and the aquatic environment. Various methods of calculating such losses are established in the literature this paper identifies methods of nutrient accounting at farm-level. Through a scored evaluation of six models nutrient balances is identified as the most appropriate tool for monitoring nutrient flow at farm-level. Evaluation is based on two criteria the reliability and availability of data and the usability of indicators for the farmer and the policy maker. Using National Farm Survey data from 2012-2015 this paper presents nutrient balances and nutrient use efficiency indicators on Irish farms and benchmarks economic performance within systems. Findings indicate the most intensive dairy systems have highest levels of nutrient inputs relative to the other farming systems but lower levels of nutrient use efficiency. Nutrient use on-farms present an environmental risk but also an economic cost and so benchmarking farms reflects nutrient use in terms of the economic and environmental impact. Findings show the trends in environmental indicators across all systems and economic performance per unit of product for dairy farms with the best performing dairy farms also having the lowest N surplus per kilogram of milk solids.
- PublicationBenchmarking farm P and N management to improve agricultural sustainabilityAgriculture faces the challenge of achieving sustainable, profitable production while maintaining environmental quality. Conventional agricultural production is highly dependent on nutrient inputs of P and N in fertilizer and feed and poor use efficiency of these resources is associated with losses to the environment and impacts on water quality, GHG emissions, air quality, acidification and biodiversity. The AgriBenchmark project explored the possibilities for benchmarking of nutrient management performance on Irish farms.