The actions of Ireland’s 18,000 dairy farmers to improve sustainability, reduce climate emissions and protect rural biodiversity are highlighted in a new fact book ‘Irish Dairy, Sustainable Ireland’, published last Thursday by the European Milk Forum (EMF) in association with the National Dairy Council (NDC).
The new publication spotlights sustainability actions currently being implemented on dairy farms across the country – in areas such as grassland and fertiliser management, low emissions slurry spreading and measures to improve water quality and herd genomics – areas highlighted as priorities in the Irish Government’s recently published ‘Ag-Climatise’ roadmap, as well as the EU Green Deal, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.
The Fact Book is the third annual edition produced in Ireland, as well as five other EU countries, as part of the EMF’s ‘Sustainable Dairy in Europe’ campaign, which is focused on the challenges and innovative responses to the issues of sustainability and climate change in the dairy sector.
Zoe Kavanagh, Chief Executive of the NDC and spokesperson for the EMF in Ireland, said that while Ireland has the most efficient dairy production system in the European Union – with low levels of carbon emissions thanks to our temperate climate and grass-based, family-farming system – there is more to be done by the sector to help Ireland reach its commitments as part of the EU’s pledge to be a climate-neutral by 2050 and to achieve the targets set in the Irish Government’s recently published roadmap.
“From Crookhaven to Carndonagh, Omeath to Oulart, Ireland’s 18,000 dairy farmers are taking actions large and small to reduce their emissions on-farm, improve sustainability and protect rural biodiversity.
“This new fact book spotlights many of these actions, including the highly scientific approach to soil fertility and grassland management, the incorporation of innovations new (Protected Urea), old (White Clover) and technological (Low Emissions Slurry Spreading).
“It also details the focus on genetics and breeding that many farmers are incorporating to make their herds as efficient as possible, as well as the fast-expanding roll-out of solar panels and energy-efficient systems on-farm.
“Dairy farmers are also protecting and safeguarding our rural biodiversity by planting native hedgerows and trees, offering pollinator patches for bees and wasps, and by protecting watercourses on their land via the ASSAP (Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advice Programme) scheme.
“While it is heartening to see all the work that is being undertaken by dairy farmers across the country, there is certainly more to be done. The next step is to mainstream these actions onto every suitable dairy farm across the country.
“Taking a practical ‘win-win’ approach to sustainability, where both the environment and the farmer benefit, is the key to further sustained reduction of emissions in the sector,” Ms Kavanagh concluded.
A digital version of the Fact Book can be viewed at NDC.ie/Publications