The hunt is on to find 100 dairy farmers across 8 countries that are willing to participate in an EU wide farm technology project.
Participating farmers have the opportunity to get involved in an important project that looks at how new technologies can improve the long-term future of their dairy businesses.
Called ‘Dairy-4-Future’ this new project is a new € 3.8 million EU Interreg funded project with a consortium of 11 partners from the Atlantic region of Western Europe.
The project partners are from 8 countries, including Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal. These partners have been supported by 21 associate partners across 5 countries.
Competitiveness, sustainability and resilience
It is anticipated the project will run for 4 years from 2018 until the end of 2021 and is funding each farmer with € 2,000 allocated for pilot farmer travel over the lifetime of the project.
As dairy production plays a vital role in the economic activity of the Atlantic Area it is no surprise that farmers in the region have ambitious plans to expand their herds.
With those plans, however, come challenges such as market volatility and climatic hazards and the need for more efficient use of natural resources to improve competitiveness.
From Scotland to the Azores, the Dairy-4-Future project aims to increase the competitiveness, sustainability and resilience of dairy farms through the development of innovative and efficient dairy systems and increased cooperation between research and development stakeholder groups.
An integral aspect of the project is the analysis of sustainability on 100 pilot dairy farms across the 8 countries involved. The project rules stipulate that these pilot farms are family farms typical of the region. They should be above-average dairy farms in terms of technical and economic performance, while at the same time being relevant to other farmers in the region in terms of farm size and cow numbers.
The average number of cows per farm in this region ranges between 31 in the Azores to 182 in Scotland, with a mean of 82 cows per farm in the Atlantic Area.
Martin McKendry, Ian McCluggage and Martin Mulholland, CAFRE celebrating the launch of the new €3.8 million Dairy-4-Future sustainability project with Gabriel Darcy and Dr Paul Crossan of LacPatrick and Aileen Lawson from the Ulster Farmers Union.
Pilot farms will be selected on strict criteria including:
- Top 10% for economic performance;
- Good technical and environmental performances (N balance, Carbon Footprint);
- Motivated individuals, prepared to travel to pilot farm visits in other regions;
- Prepared to host farm visits both locally and from other project regions;
- Innovative dairy farms, that are testing novel dairy systems or working in close collaboration with research and development.
Farmers in the relevant 8 project countries can apply to participate in the programme via their local dairy or government authorities.