€100,000 granted to research alternative incomes for farmers

A grant of almost €100,000 has been provided to conduct research into alternative incomes for farmers with a view to “lowering their environmental impact”.

The research will be carried out by the Technological University (TU) Dublin (formally Dublin Institute of Technology) in conjunction with Teagasc. The project will be carried out over the course of 12 months. It started on January 7.

The research has a budget €99,976. The funding was paid by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and forms part of the €10 million in environmental research grants announced yesterday, Tuesday, February 11.

An EPA spokesperson said: “Currently, climate and biodiversity-smart approaches represent the greatest challenge for the agri-food sector.

“To allow the co-existence of sustainable agriculture and the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems in the same time, redesigned farm management methods and diversification of dairy and beef farms are needed. Consequently, there is a need for farmers and rural businesses to consider alternative income streams,” the spokesperson added.

The aim of the project is, according to the EPA, to provide “a robust, evidence-based approach of diversification tools” for implementation on Irish beef and dairy farms.

Some of the key parts of the research will be as follows:

  • Detailed analysis of proposed solutions already out there;
  • Analysis of the most suitable scenarios for grass-based dairy and beef;
  • Case studies of Irish farms that have already diversified;
  • Looking at examples of diversification internationally;
  • Conducting a survey into attitudes and “behavioural barriers” to diversification;
  • Recommending government support and improved legislation.

This project forms one of a slew of research projects that will avail of €10 million in Government funding through the EPA.

The issue of agri-emissions was cited as a focus point for the funding programme, as well as pesticide use.

The EPA announced the funding yesterday, confirming that the largest grant awards have gone to University College Cork (UCC) and the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG).

These two institutions were awarded the funding for research projects looking at recyclable plastics for packaging; and pesticide management and water quality.