Sustainable Agriculture

Smart Farming logo

Farming is a carbon and energy intensive activity. To reduce its environmental impact, the EPA and the Irish Farmers’ Association created a voluntary farming sustainability programme, Smart Farming.

Smart Farming provides guidance and on-farm advice on the practical actions farmers can take to save money and improve the environment.

What is the Smart Farming Programme?

Smart Farming is a voluntary sustainability programme led by the Irish Farmers Association in partnership with the EPA.

Smart Farming focuses on eight areas that have the best potential to both save costs and improve the environment, including:

  • water management
  • soil fertility
  • energy
  • grassland
  • feed
  • inputs and waste
  • machinery
  • time management

Farmers taking the Smart Farming challenge get free cost-saving studies. An advisor visits their farm and works with them to find ways to save money and take practical actions to improve resource management.

Farms taking the challenge in 2020 identified the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by on average 9% and save on average €5,600.

Latest Smart Farming guidance and resources

The Smart Farming programme is a voluntary resource efficiency programme, delivered by the Irish Farmers’ Association in partnership with the EPA's Circular Economy Programme (CEP). The programme focusses on eight thematic areas which can save costs and improve the environment.

  • Water guidance details how farmers can conserve water and steps to improve water quality on their farm.
  • Soil testing identifies areas of low soil fertility and a nutrient management plan helps to save money by identifying what parts of the farm need extra fertilizer to improve productivity.
  • Energy guidance starts by identifying the major areas of energy demand around the farm, analysing power consumption and electricity or energy bills.
  • Grassland and grazing management advice helps farmers maximise production and profitability.
  • Feed costs are the biggest costs on livestock farms. Practical actions for getting the best from feed and delivering higher returns are in the feed guidance.
  • Inputs such as feed, fertiliser and harvesting costs account for over 75% of variable costs on livestock farms. Practical actions to manage inputs and waste and minimise losses are provided.
  • Practical actions to reduce machinery running costs and reduce fuel consumption are provided.
  • Time is an important resource and practical actions for time management are provided.

Smart Farming produces case studies to capture the experience of the farmers who take part in the programme and to show how practical actions on resource efficiency can lead to cost savings.

Smart Farming is recognised as a national flagship programme for sustainable agriculture and was declared a Sustainable Development Goals Champion in 2019 by the Department of the Environment.

Smart Farming was also winner of the Agri-Innovation Award at the RDS Spring Awards in 2019. 

How to get involved

Any farmer who is looking for advice on changes they can make to farm more sustainably can take part in the Smart Farming programme. The programme is currently accepting registrations for the 2021 Smart Farming programme. To register for a free resource efficiency assessment and cost savings report see the Smart Farming programme registration page.