Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue visited a “landmark project” dubbed the Farm Zero C – which aims to create a “world-first climate neutral dairy farm”.

The project is being run by Carbery Group and BiOrbic, and operates at Shinagh Farm in west Cork, a demonstrator farm, previously focused on demonstrating profitability and efficiency.

The farm is owned by the four west Cork co-ops and run in partnership with Teagasc.

With Farm Zero C having recently been awarded a €2million grant in prize money from Science Foundation Ireland’s Zero Emissions Challenge, work is now underway on hiring researchers, a project manager and a farm researcher for the project, Carbery group says.

Two of this team will be based full-time at Shinagh.

Minister McConalogue., Carbery CEO Jason Hawkins and John McNamara of Teagasc take a look at the multi species swards at Shinagh

Commenting during the visit, Minister McConalogue said: “I have been consistent in my belief that farmers are innovators, and they will find their way through this current climate issue as they have problem solved in the past – and my department will continue to support them to do so.

“Farm Zero C is a powerful example of what can happen when the solutions for reducing agricultural emissions are farmer-led, in partnership with academics and researchers.

“Projects like this will be how we secure the future of farming and of our climate for future generations.”

Jason Hawkins, Carbery CEO, stated it was great to welcome the Minister to Shinagh to show him a positive story around dairy and sustainability.

“We didn’t know, when we started work on this project two years ago, how much focus there would be on farming and environmental impact in the current climate.

“But our goals remain the same, though the landscape has changed around us. We want to use this project to show that it is possible to run a profitable, efficient dairy farm operation, that is also climate neutral.”

Chairman of Carbery Group, farmer Cormac O’Keeffe, said: “The farmers of west Cork have been supportive of Farm Zero C from its inception, and to see all of the positive focus around it now is an encouraging news story for farmers and about farming at a time when it is needed.

“We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to Shinagh, and especially the farmers of west Cork, to see what we are trying to achieve here.”

Minister McConalogue was accompanied on the visit by TD Christopher O’Sullivan, senator Tim Lombard and Mayor of Cork County Gillian Coughlan.