Energy efficiency and the adoption of related technology are two ways in which a farm business can improve its competitiveness and lower its carbon footprint.
Professor Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc, highlighted both aims at the Energy in Agriculture conference in Gurteen Agricultural College, Co Tipperary.
The event looked at various energy-saving opportunities for farmers, together with renewable energy deployment opportunities within the various sectors.
It was organised by Teagasc in combination with Tipperary County Council and Tipperary Energy Agency and was supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
Prof Boyle said an efficient farm is more likely to be a profitable farm, with lower carbon emissions per unit of output.
The contacts and links made at the event will be invaluable as farmers strive to develop their business and become or remain competitive, he said.
Communications, Climate Action, and Environment Minister Denis Naughten, who officially opened the event, stressed the need for Ireland to substantially decarbonise the energy system, wean itself off dependence on imported fossil fuels and move to cleaner, greener energy sources.
He noted the lead taken in agriculture where Ireland has the lowest carbon footprint in Europe for dairy and the fifth-lowest for beef production.
Siobhan Ambrose, chairwoman of Tipperary County Council, said efforts have been made by the agri-industry to reduce emissions to date.
“But there is much more that can be done to increase the efficiency of agricultural production and meet our environmental obligations.
"By working together to meet the greenhouse gas challenge we can map our own future and grow production in a sustainable and profitable way,” she said.
Tipperary Energy Agency chief executive Paul Kenny said it is time policymakers and the agri-industry see the opportunity of energy supply from agriculture and how farming can be take a lead role in climate change and not just be a contributor.
“Other EU countries such as Germany have shown how this can be achieved. Ireland can learn from this,” he said.
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