Exchange visit to Brittany for farmers

Dairy-4-Future is an exciting new €3.8 million Atlantic Interreg funded project aiming to improve the sustainability of dairy farming in the Atlantic regions of Europe.

Economic, environmental and social sustainability of dairy farming will be addressed by the project.

In addition, the project has been supported by 21 associate partners including Lakeland Dairies and the UFU in Northern Ireland.

At the heart of the project are a group of 100 pilot farmers and ten experimental farms drawn from all the regions involved. Detailed data on economic, environment and social sustainability aspects of dairy farming have been collected and are currently being analysed.

The analysis will assess how the differing management practices across the diverse systems of dairy farming in the Atlantic area can contribute to increasing milk price resilience, reducing ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions and encourage generational renewal on dairy farms in the region.

As a key part of the project, ten local dairy farmers participating in the project recently had the opportunity to undertake a two-day exchange visit to Brittany in France.

The exchange visit included visits to Brittany dairy farms, dinner with local farmers and advisers and a visit to the Derval experimental farm north of Nantes.

Some of the management practices that particularly impressed the NorthernIreland farmers on the exchange visit were the low concentrate use per cow and per litre relative to milk yields; grassland management standards; conserved forage quality; low nitrogen fertilizer use on the farms and family lifestyle focus of the Brittany dairy farmers. The Northern Ireland farmers participating in the exchange visit were surprised by low land prices in Brittany, between €5,000 and €10,000 per hectare; the extent of mixed dairy farming and cereal cropping land use on the farms; relatively low milk output productivity per labour unit on the Brittany dairy farms (309,078 litres per labour unit compared to 905,908 on the top 10% farms in Northern Ireland); the fact that expansion of their business was not a priority for Brittany farmers and the perceived potential for watercourse pollution from dirty water run-off from farmyards.




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