Strong buy-in of sustainable practices on Irish dairy farms

A recent sustainability survey completed by AIB at the recent Irish Grassland Association Dairy Summer Tour has identified a strong uptake of Teagasc-advocated sustainability measures.

As well as this, there is a strong appetite to expand existing efforts even further on Irish dairy farms.

Completed by 141 dairy farmers, with an average herd size of 178 cows, over 90% of dairy farmers surveyed are currently focused on improving herd genetics and extending the grazing season.

85% are increasing spring slurry applications and almost three in four are using low emission slurry spreading to maximise the true value of slurry, helping also to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

The survey also identified that larger scaled farms were typically applying an increased number of measures, with strong interest in particular in increasing energy efficiency, including: installing an effective milk cooler; a heat recovery system; variable speed drives on vacuum / milk pumps; and solar PV systems.

Another strong area of interest was introducing renewable energy sources on farm (i.e. anaerobic digestion; solar; wind turbines, etc.).

Overall, 90% of dairy farmers surveyed perceived their farms to be economically viable; 80% believed themselves environmentally sustainable; with two in three (67%) socially sustainable.

Green Fund

Following the recent Green Fund announcement in early June, AIB will embark on a series of events for farmers, including the Tullamore Show and the National Ploughing Championships.

AIB will bring together Irish farmers and international experts to explore, educate and share knowledge on sustainable farming and improving profitability.

The AIB ‘10: The Book That Grew’ will also be on display at the events throughout the summer, and full details of the events can be found at: www.aib.ie/farming.

‘10: The Book That Grew’ is a book grown from grass root weaving, that encapsulates the Teagasc Grass10 simple guide to improving on-farm sustainability.

Created by German artist Diana Scherer, it showcases how small changes in farm practices can improve grass production and utilisation, to improve and sustain profitability. These include soil fertility, sward composition, grassland measurement and grazing infrastructure.