Green Architecture

What is Green Architecture?

Green Architecture in agriculture encompasses a set of sustainable and eco-friendly approaches to both the design and construction of agricultural structures and the cultivation and management of agricultural landscapes. The overarching objective of green architecture in agriculture is to mitigate the environmental impact of farming activities while simultaneously fostering efficiency, resource conservation, and the health of ecosystems. Green architecture is a key priority area under Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan. The fundamental principles of green architecture in agriculture include:

1. Resource Efficiency

This involves designing agricultural structures and systems with a focus on minimising resource inputs while maximising output. Efficient use of water, energy, and land is crucial in optimising productivity and reducing the environmental footprint of agricultural activities.

2. Renewable Energy

Integrating renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, not only reduces the reliance on fossil fuels but also contributes to a more sustainable and resilient energy supply for agricultural operations. This transition towards clean energy aligns with broader efforts to combat climate change.

3. Water Conservation

Water-efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation and precision watering techniques, are essential components of green agriculture. Additionally, capturing and utilizing rainwater through rainwater harvesting systems can supplement water resources, particularly in regions prone to water scarcity.

4. Biodiversity

The CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) prioritises the creation of diverse and ecologically rich landscapes. Preserving natural habitats, planting cover crops, and avoiding the use of harmful chemicals foster a balanced ecosystem. Biodiversity not only enhances the resilience of the agricultural environment but also contributes to pest control and pollination.

5. Waste Management

Effective waste management is critical for reducing the environmental impact of agricultural activities. Composting organic waste and recycling materials help close the nutrient loop, creating a more sustainable and circular approach to farming.

6. Smart Technology

The integration of smart technologies in agriculture, such as sensors, drones, and data analytics, enables farmers to make data-informed decisions. Precision agriculture, for example, allows for targeted resource application, optimizing the use of water, fertilizers, and pesticides.

7. Sustainable Materials

Selecting sustainable and locally sourced materials for construction aligns with the principles of green architecture. This includes using recycled materials, low-impact construction methods, and eco-friendly building designs to minimize the environmental footprint of agricultural infrastructure.

8. Soil Health

Practices that promote soil health are integral to sustainable agriculture. Cover cropping helps prevent soil erosion, crop rotation mitigates nutrient depletion, and reduced tillage maintains soil structure. Healthy soil is a cornerstone of productive and sustainable farming.

9. Permaculture

Permaculture principles guide the design of agricultural systems by mimicking natural ecosystems. This approach fosters diversity, resilience, and self-sufficiency. Permaculture systems often involve companion planting, agroforestry, and other techniques that prioritise long-term sustainability.

10. Community Engagement

Involving local communities in agricultural decision-making processes fosters a sense of shared responsibility and ensures that farming practices align with cultural values and community needs. Collaborative initiatives can include community-supported agriculture programs and educational outreach.

In summary, Green Architecture in agriculture is important to the wider movement towards sustainable and regenerative farming practices. It encompasses a holistic and integrated approach to farming that considers the efficient use of resources, the integration of renewable energy, biodiversity conservation, waste reduction, and community involvement. By embracing these principles, farmers can contribute to the overall enhancement of agricultural sustainability.

This theme within CAP Network Ireland covers a set of schemes which align to delivering the goals and objectives set out by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). These include:

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Glossary of Terms

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

Arable Land:

the word arable in Latin means” land capable of being ploughed’, Arable Land describes a land type within agriculture which is ploughed and planted for the production of crops.

Artificial Fertilisers:

artificial is something that is man-made or manufactured. Fertiliser is a substance such as animal wastes or a chemical mixture that you can apply to soil to enhance the soil’s nutrient availability to plants. Artificial Fertilisers are manufactured chemical fertilisers which are added to help plants grow more successfully.

Advanced conditionality:

Conditionality sets the baseline requirements for farmers in receipt of CAP Payments. Consisting of Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) and standards for the maintenance of land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAECs), Ireland proposes to implement a system of enhanced conditionality through the CSP.

Certain new GAECs are being introduced, such as GAEC 2, which relates to the protection of peatland and wetland. GAEC 7 now includes rotation as well as diversification requirements. Other GAECs are proposed to be strengthened beyond minimum legislative requirements. For example, GAEC 8 is proposed to apply to all agricultural areas, in the main, rather than just arable farms, with certain exceptions for commonage, Natura 2000, forestry, GAEC 2 and GAEC 9 lands. Requirements for those who choose to participate in Eco Schemes and /or Pillar II interventions will build on conditionality requirements.

Agricultural Activity:

It is proposed that there must be an agricultural activity on a parcel for it be considered eligible, and the agricultural activity must result in the maintenance of the agricultural area. This is the same provision as applies in the current CAP.

Agricultural Area:

sub-divides into “arable land”, “permanent crops” and “permanent grassland”. One proposed change from the definition in the previous CAP is that Ireland proposes to specifically include “rushes” within the “permanent grassland” definition.

C

Carbon Neutral:

is a term used to describe an action which creates an amount of CO2 which is equal to the amount of CO2 that is sequestered (absorbed) or offset, which results in zero net carbon emissions. An example of Carbon Neutral in farming is the use of Cover Crops. Cover crops have the ability to sequester CO2 in some cases offsetting the carbon emitted / created from other crops.

Carbon Offsetting:

otherwise known as Carbon Neutral, is a measure or action implemented which reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) to offset or balance out greenhouse gases that have been/will be produced by another activity. For example cutting down a tree and burning releases GHG, planting new trees to replace those cut down will absorb that GHG from the atmosphere, this action is known as Carbon Off setting or Carbon Neutral.

Carbon Sequestration:

this is the process of catching carbon and trapping it for long term storage in carbon sinks (such as soils, forests and the oceans). Humans have been trying to sequester carbon to mitigate or reduce the effects of impending climate change impacts, which are as a result of global warming.

Climate Change:

climate is a term used to describe an average of expected weather conditions that have been recorded over many years, Climate Change is a shift in previously expected weather conditions which are as a direct result of increased greenhouse gas emissions within the atmosphere. The term Climate Change is used to describe not only global warming but a potential occurrence of irregular extreme weather conditions.

D

Deforestation:

forestation is the establishment of forest on land areas. Deforestation is an action whereby trees have been removed or cleared from a previously forested area. Some of the main reasons for deforestation is to create new areas for agriculture or the used of wood for construction or fuel purpose. Failure to sufficiently restore previously forested areas negatively impacts biodiversity and reduces the sequestration potential of area.

Drought:

an extended period of time without any rainfall in a region. Drought in agriculture is best described when soil moisture content is insufficient, which as a result hinders crop growth and production. In parts of the world where drought conditions are common irrigation methods (mechanically applying water to the land) is used to supply sufficient water quantities to help maintain adequate grass and crop growth and production.

E

Emissions:

air pollutants produced or released to the atmosphere are known as emissions. It is a widely known fact that globally agriculture is one of the largest GHG emitter, second to the energy sector. Most of the emissions in agriculture are made up of CH4 (methane) which derives from belching cattle & N2O (nitrous oxide) which derives from chemical fertiliser.

Eligible Hectare:

An eligible hectare shall consist of any Agricultural Area which, during the year for which support is requested, is used for an Agricultural Activity or, where the area is also used for non-agricultural activities, is predominantly used for agricultural activities, and which is at the farmer’s disposal.

F

Fauna:

is a term used to describe all the animal species living in a particular area. Ireland’s Fauna comprises all the animal species inhabiting the island of Ireland and its surrounding waters. There are 35 mammal species on land in Ireland, 28 freshwater fish species, 24 species of whale and dolphin in Irish seawaters and approximately 200 different types of bird. The number of invertebrates (without a backbone) exceeds 16,000. Birds that are considered to be unique to Ireland are the jay, red grouse, dipper and coal tit.

Flood:

an over flow of water on to land that is not usually submerged in water. This usually occurs after heavy rain fall where by water levels of rivers or lakes rise reaching capacity. They then overflow into the surrounding land areas. Floods can damage agricultural crops and can remove top soil from agricultural areas reducing the production capacity or ability nutrient of the area. In Egypt, the river Nile floods on a yearly basis, leaving behind fertile soil on the lands. As a result, the flood plains on the Nile are one of the most fertile land areas in the world.

Flora:

is a term used to describe all the plant species living in a particular area. There are 2328 species of vascular plants in Ireland, of which 980 are native. (National Biodiversity Data Centre).

G

Global Warming:

global warming is a term used to describe a gradual rise in overall global temperature, due to increased emissions of GHG’s to the earth’s atmosphere. These GHG’s linger in the atmosphere, trapping heat from the sun and raise global atmospheric temperatures. CO2 lasts in the earth’s atmosphere for up to 200 years (depending on carbon capture/ sequestration levels). Methane can last in the earth’s atmosphere for up to 12 years. Nitrous oxide can last in the earth’s atmosphere for up to 114 years and compounds such as chlorine and/or fluorine such as CFC’s can last in the atmosphere from 1 year to over 1000 years.

GAEC – Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition:

GAEC’s refer to a range of standards concerning soil, climate change mitigation, habitats and water. There are nine GAECs in the agreed draft CSP Regulation. All EU Member States are to specify applicable standards for each GAEC based on farm size, farm structures and the specific characteristics of the areas concerned, including soil and climatic condition, existing farming systems and land use (Article 13 draft CSP Regulation). See DAFM’s publication on CSP 2023-2027 ‘terms and conditions’.

All details provided below are a short summary of DAFM’s commitment relating to each of the GAEC’s set out under EU legislation.

GAEC 1:

Maintenance of permanent grassland. General safeguard against conversion to other agricultural uses to preserve carbon stock. New GAEC – already implemented in the current CAP under Article 45 (2) of 1307/2013. Managed at national level.

GAEC 2:

Protection of wetland and peatland. DAFM is considering appropriate definitions of peatlands and wetlands. Dependent on many factors, including ongoing EIP-AGRI’s working in the related area.

GAEC 3:

Ban on burning arable stubble, except for plant health reasons. Existing GAEC – no change under new CSP.

GAEC 4:

Establishment of buffer strips along water courses. GAEC 1 of cross compliance. If appropriate, requirements will be amended to reflect the outcome of the on-going review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme.

GAEC 5:

Tillage management or other appropriate cultivation techniques to limit the risk of soil degradation, taking into account the slope gradient. requirements will be amended to reflect the outcome of the on-going review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme.

GAEC 6:

Minimum soil cover to avoid bare soil in period(s) and areas that are most sensitive. Cross compliance with GAEC 4. If appropriate, requirements will be amended to reflect the outcome of the on-going review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme.

GAEC 7:

Crop rotation in arable land, except for crops growing under water. New GAEC (but crop diversification is currently part of Greening).

GAEC 8:

Minimum share of agricultural area devoted to non-productive areas. Existing and partially new GAEC (currently part of Greening). Minimum share (4%) of agricultural land devoted to non-productive features. Non-productive features’ include: land lying fallow, eligible forestry, short rotation coppice, field copse, hedgerows, drains, buffer strips, field margins, stonewalls and ponds. This list will be subject to on-going review.

GAEC 9:

Ban on converting or ploughing permanent grassland in Natura 2000 sites designated as environmentally sensitive permanent grasslands in Natura 2000 sites. New GAEC, but currently part of Greening.

L

Land Erosion:

is a re-occurring process which effects all landforms. In agriculture land erosion describes the process by which material on the surface of the land becomes dislodged and moves. Land erosion is a contributor to a reduction in water quality. When the sediment from the land gets washed into our rivers or streams due to high levels of rain fall, the sediments (enriched) nutrients becomes a pollutant in streams and rivers. Agriculture can combat land erosion by planting trees and vegetation as ground cover to bind the soil. Plants play a huge part in prevention of land erosion. Plant cover protects the soil from exposure to wind and rain, while plants root structure knits the soil securely together, meaning soil is less likely to move.

M

Methane:

this gas is comprised of Carbon and 4 Hydrogen atoms (CH4). In relation to agriculture, Methane emissions primarily results from livestock. Agriculture accounts for the majority of methane (CH4) emissions in Ireland (85%) due to the dominance of cattle and sheep livestock production in Irish agricultural output. Ruminant animals release CH4 as a bi-product of microbial fermentation of food in the rumen and large intestine (digestion).

N

Native Species:

is a term used to describe flora and fauna that were present in a particular country or area prior to the arrival of humans. Some common native tree species in Ireland are Ash, Birch and Oak.

Non-Native Species:

is a term to describe flora and fauna that have been introduced to an area in which they previously did not exist. Non- Native species may have been introduced deliberately or accidently by humans. Some common non-native tree species in Ireland are Beech, Sycamore and Horse Chestnut.

O

Organic Fertilisers:

organic is a term used to describe food or meat grown or raised without the addition of chemicals or pesticides. Fertilisers that derive from rotting organic materials such as compost or animal manure are considered as organic manures. Examples of Organic Fertilisers; Animal excreta- manures, plant waste – composting & green manure otherwise known as crop residues (stubble left in the field after harvest).

P

Pillar 1 – Eco-Schemes:

A new voluntary annual agri-environmental scheme, known as the Eco Scheme, will strengthen the environmental and climate outcomes achieved by Pillar 1 payments, by building on baseline improvements achieved through conditionality. Ireland proposes to introduce an Eco Scheme for all farmers, aimed at maximising farmer participation in order to achieve climate and environmental improvements across all farmed lands.

Pillar 2 – Interventions:

Ambitious, environmentally-focused Pillar II interventions will deliver significant long-term environmental improvement through participation by a significant number of farmers, with each making a strong improvement on their farm. This broad range of interventions will build on, and complement, achievements under Conditionality and the Eco Scheme.

These actions will be supported by new CAP Networks to communicate best practice and strengthen knowledge and innovation networks.

R

Renewable Energy:

energy that is created and replaced rapidly from re-occurring natural resources such as wind, water or solar energy. This renewable energy could play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change. If utilised widely across the world, the need for the use or reliance on fossil fuels would then be reduced in turn reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

S

Slurry:

describes the accumulation of livestock manures and faeces which is collected and stored on farm over the winter months in a storage unit. Slurry is spread on the land as organic fertiliser to increase the lands soil fertility which in turn increases crop yields. Slurry is in a semi liquid form and is often measured in gallons or m3. Slurry contains the nutrients Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). 1000 gallons of slurry has a nutritive value content similar to a 50kg bag of chemical fertiliser 6-5-30 (units of N, P & K respectively). Slurry is best applied in spring as weather conditions are most suitable prevent the Nitrogen been lost to the atmosphere.