RDS Spring Awards 2018: The winners in agriculture and forestry

Farmers from around the country received the 2018 RDS Spring Awards at a ceremony in Ballsbridge, with new awards recognising the genetic merit of the best beef and dairy herds, as well as a first Teagsac Farm Forestry Award.

The theme running throughout the awards was on climate-smart agriculture – particularly the need for farmers to be more scientifically aware in their decision-making around breeding, as well as being more open to afforestation, according to the organisers.

Dairy

Brendan Meade from Whiteleas Farm on the Meath-Dublin border took the inaugural RDS Dairy Herd Award. Brendan’s farm is a spring-calving system built on good breeding, high grass utilisation and a labour-conscious system.

Judges saw Meade’s farm as the best combination of EBI, calving interval and six-week calving rate performance based on herds which are members of HerdPlus and who are genotyping young dairy females.

Beef

The winner of the inaugural RDS Beef Herd Award was Richard Fortune from Knottown, Co. Wexford. Richard received the 2013 RDS Maternal Index Award for his “outstanding” Salers cow Usance.

His winning beef herd has an average Euro-Star replacement index of €192, an average calving interval of 375 days, and an average calves/cow/year rate of 1.03.

EBI

The RDS Economic Breeding Index Award went to James Lynch from Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, for Cappasouth Cuddy Leo who is the highest EBI genotyped cow currently in the country.

Farm Forestry

Andrew O’Carroll, Rathcash, Clifden, Co. Kilkenny (see main picture) was awarded the inaugural Teagasc Farm Forestry Award. Andrew farms a total of 140ac – of which, 47ac are in forestry.

The forest was planted in 2005. It is in three blocks, all of which contain the same species mix – 80% sitka spruce, 15% japanese larch and 5% alder.

Speaking at the presentation of the awards, Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said: “I am pleased that the RDS Spring Agriculture Awards relate to both agriculture and forestry.

I believe that forestry can complement other farming enterprises, which – when combined together – will contribute to the profitability and sustainability of the overall farm business.

The minister continued: “Livestock farming continues to be a critical part of farming in Ireland and pedigree breeders have a major role in this regard. The livestock awards on offer today were designed to give recognition to the integral part pedigree breeders play in this industry.

“It is clear that we have added a scientific dimension to cattle breeding in recent years and pedigree breeders have adopted these technologies.”

Climate change and food security

Meanwhile, Michael Duffy, chief executive of the RDS, said: “Climate change and food security are two of the most important issues of this century, and will have severe, long-term consequences. Ireland has a responsibility in both areas.

However, the future of both sectors is set to be linked like never before through the international requirement to view our agricultural emissions holistically.

“We will be obliged to balance our dairy and beef greenhouse gas emissions, with our carbon sequestration through our forests and woodlands.”