Johnstown Castle farm walk highlights dairy sustainability

A recent event in Johnstown Castle dairy farm took place to highlight the “innovative work” that Irish farmers are doing to promote dairy sustainability.

The event – led by Teagasc and titled Dairy Masterclass and winter farm walk – took place last Wednesday (January 16).

At the event, industry personnel covered a number of relevant topics including sustainable practice, nutrient management, details on soils, carbon mitigation and managing a herd during winter.

The ‘Dairy Masterclass’ introduced attendees to ‘Sustainable Dairy in Europe – Safeguarding our Resources’, a three-year EU funded campaign launched by the European Milk Forum.

The aim of this campaign is to discuss the challenges of sustainability and climate change.

It also aims to showcase the determination of the dairy sector to be part of the climate change solution, along with every other business sector and citizen across Europe and the world.

National Dairy Councils from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Denmark, France, Belgium and The Netherlands are participating in the campaign.

Steps taken on the farm included switching to protected urea as an N fertilizer source, and using low-emission slurry spreading methods to reduce ammonia emissions.

Johnstown Castle dairy farm supplies to Glanbia and is a member of the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme, which sets out requirements for best practice on Irish dairy farms in animal health and welfare, land management, biosecurity, safe farming practices and the production of quality milk.

Almost 100% of Irish farmers are now certified in the scheme, which is an indication of their commitment to operating and maintaining the highest possible sustainability measures.

Speaking at the farm visit, Dr. Karl Richards, head of the Environment Soils and Land-Use department at Teagasc Johnstown Castle, said:

“Agriculture has a huge range of tools that we can apply to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can produce energy and increase energy efficiency on farms, and of course, there is scope in Ireland to increase carbon sequestration to offset emissions.”

Chief executive of the National Dairy Council, Zoe Kavanagh, said: “Johnstown Castle dairy farm is doing valuable work to lead by example in terms of innovation and dairy sustainability, and we are delighted to see for ourselves its most recent developments today in carbon mitigation, soil and water management.”