International Dairy4Future research programme looking for pilot farmers

A total of 10 Northern Ireland dairy farmers have the opportunity to get involved in ‘Dairy4Future’ – an international research project looking at how new technologies can improve the long-term future of farms.

A budget of €2,000 per farm has been allocated for pilot farmers to travel to other farms involved in the scheme over the lifetime of the project.

‘Dairy-4-Future’ is an exciting new €3.8 million EU-funded project with a consortium of 11 partners from the Atlantic region of western Europe.

Project partners from eight countries, including Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal are involved.

In Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland component of the project is led by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), with support from LacPatrick and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

The project will run for four years – from 2018 until the end of 2021.

The Dairy4Future 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.

It will look at challenges such as market volatility and climatic hazards and the need for more efficient use of natural resources to improve competitiveness.

Pilot farms

The project will analyse the sustainability of the 100 pilot dairy farms across the eight countries involved.

The 10 pilot farms in each region are family farms typical of each country. 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 range between 31 in the Azores, to 182 in Scotland, with a mean of 82 cows per farm in the Atlantic area.

Key selection criteria for the pilot farms are:

  • Top 10% for economic performance;
  • Good technical and environmental performances, for example in terms of N balance and carbon footprint;
  • Motivated individuals who are 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.

If you would like to be a pilot farmer in the Dairy4Future project, contact Martin Mulholland at Greenmount Campus, CAFRE on: 028-9442-6750, or by email on: [email protected]