ATU researchers to equip Irish horticulture and tillage farmers with digital tools to revolutionise agricultural practices

Monday, June 10, 2024
Press Releases

Agriculture, a cornerstone of Irish culture and economy, is a significant contributor to national greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 38.4% of emissions in 2022 (EPA, 2023). With the urgent need to address climate change, weather variability, and soil degradation, farmers are being called upon to embrace sustainable practices to meet Ireland's ambitious climate targets. 

In response to these challenges, Atlantic Technological University (ATU) and Sligo County Council have joined forces to launch a transformative project funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) through the National Challenge Fund, which was established under the government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, by providing horticulture and tillage farmers with innovative tools and solutions to mitigate greenhouse gas emission and enhance sustainability.

Led by Dr Salem Gharbia, head of the Department of Environmental Science at ATU, and Dr Iulia Anton, a co-lead and postdoctoral researcher in Environmental Science at ATU, the team aims to revolutionise agricultural practices through the two-tier approach.  

The physical component comprises a network of local sensors to measure emissions from various farming activities, while the digital component integrates the real-time data into a modelling framework. This framework enables the simulation of different farming practices and "what if" scenarios, allowing farmers to optimise productivity while minimising resource consumption and carbon emissions. 

Dr Gharbia explains in detail the project's objectives: "Through this project, we are developing a framework and digital platform that will enable policymakers, farmers, and local government bodies to make informed decisions and take proactive measures to address climate change impacts, for the tillage/horticulture sector." 

Dr Anton highlights the urgency of tackling climate change in agriculture and the project's potential to benefit horticulture and tillage farmers: "Climate change poses significant challenges to Irish farms, and our project seeks to empower farmers with a digital platform to assess their carbon footprint and implement smart farming practices. The digital model can also simulate different farming practices and see how they would impact the farm's carbon footprint and productivity,” she explains. 

Pete Murtagh, Climate Action Officer at Sligo County Council, highlights the collaborative nature of the project and its engagement with local farmers:  
"We are excited to partner with ATU on this innovative initiative. By involving farmers in the co-design and implementation of solutions, we aim to foster a sense of ownership and collective responsibility in addressing climate challenges within the agricultural sector. By empowering farmers with data-driven insights and innovative solutions, the project aims to foster a more sustainable and resilient future for Ireland's agricultural sector."

Any tillage or horticulture farmers interested in the project can get involved by contacting the team of researchers at for further information or inquiries.  

Watch the explainer video here


Ivana Hanjs  
Digital Communications Officer   
Ollscoil Teicneolaíochta an Atlantaigh (OTA), Éire  
Atlantic Technological University (ATU), Ireland  
Tel: +353 89 963 9559