New ‘Open Source Future Farm Programme’ unveiled

The next generation of a joint programme that aims to “provide family farms with the skills and technologies to operate efficient and sustainable dairy farming systems” has been launched by Glanbia Ireland and Teagasc.

The Open Source Future Farm Programme is the latest evolution of the Teagasc / Glanbia Ireland knowledge transfer programme, according to Glanbia.

The aim of the initiative is to harness advancements in technology and farm practices to support farmers to make the necessary changes for a profitable and sustainable future.

11 farm families will partake in the programme.

These will include: Thomas Fennelly, from Co. Laois; Shane and John P. Fitzgerald from Co. Waterford; Steven Fitzgerald, also from Waterford; Donal Kavanagh, from Co. Wicklow; Jack and Larry Kearnery, from Co. Cork; Cathal Moran, from Co. Kilkenny; Mathew and Declan Mullen, from Co. Meath; Kevin Murphy, from Co. Wexford; Francis Nolan, from Co. Kilkenny; John Ryan, from Co. Tipperary; and Shay Ryan from Co. Wexford.

The 11 farms, which range in size from 120 to 320 cows, will be part of the EU-funded Smart Agri Hubs dairy project, with meters installed to monitor and improve water and energy usage.

This tool will aid all farmers across the Glanbia Ireland supply base in using water and energy resources more efficiently, according to Glanbia.

A key priority in the programme will be to introduce digital technologies and practices, particularly in the area of labour efficiency.

It will provide strong insights for other farmers on streamlining their farming operation to deliver lean management practices, whilst also supporting the health and well-being of the farmer.

Strong emphasis will be placed on soil nutrient management, utilising high yields of quality grass, effective nitrogen (N) usage and the Economic Breeding Index (EBI) of the herds to help boost productivity.

At the launch of the five-year programme, Glanbia Ireland’s CEO, Jim Bergin, commented: “Knowledge transfer networks provide key learning opportunities for farmers and we hope this programme will help family farms adopt efficiencies to grow their businesses sustainably and profitably into the future.”

Glanbia Ireland chairman Martin Keane welcomed this latest partnership with Teagasc and thanked the farm families for agreeing to participate in the programme.

Prof. Gerry Boyle, Teagasc director, said: “Farming systems have to evolve to tackle multiple challenges, and this is especially true now in relation to the multi-faceted sustainability challenge, including the need to improve water quality, reduce agricultural emissions and maintain biodiversity.”

Glanbia Ireland’s farm development manager John Murphy and Teagasc dairy business and technology advisor Richard O’Brien will manage and provide the technical services for the programme.

There will be regular opportunities to see first-hand the advancements through farm walks held on the 11 farms, which vary in size and soil types across the Glanbia Ireland catchment area.

Farmers can also follow regular updates on the Open Source Future Farm programme through social media and in-depth reports on the Glanbia and Teagasc websites.