MORE than 120 delegates participated at a recent Dairy Council Sustainable Dairy event on Tuesday, November 8, to promote the need for Northern Ireland dairy farms to capture and analyse emissions data to inform on farm decisions around sustainability.
The EU Sustainable Dairy Symposium is part of a multi-country European Milk Forum promotion programme to highlight the positive role of the dairy sector for climate action and the environment.
One of the event highlights was a discussion panel with the three CEOs of Northern Ireland’s largest dairy co-operatives Dale Farm, Glanbia Cheese and Lakeland Dairies, who underlined the importance of on farm sustainability to their own businesses.
They also spoke about their sustainability plans, how they are working with farmers to tackle climate change and the role that data collection will play in helping market Northern Ireland dairy produce to local and international customers.
Board member of the Dutch Farmers Organization Wilco Brouwer de Koning provided a snapshot of the work being undertaken on his own dairy farm and the work being undertaken in the Netherlands to improve biodiversity and DAERA Deputy Secretary of Food and Farming Norman Fulton provided a policy update.
Dairy Council CEO Dr Mike Johnston, MBE, said: “The Northern Ireland dairy sector has made significant strides in recent years to decarbonise farm and processing businesses, and this has put our produce on a sound footing for providing valuable dairy products for the local market and grow the sector to compete on the world stage.
“Many of the existing carbon reduction techniques such as low emission slurry spreading, energy saving and renewable energy technologies have become more commonplace on dairy farms and this has contributed to major savings over the last 32 years. DAERA figures released last week (October 20) show that since 1990 the carbon intensity per litre of milk have reduced 36.9 per cent.
“The next stage in the dairy sustainability journey will be to capture the carbon emission data on a farm by farm basis to allow management decisions to be made tailored for their own farm.”
A number of dairy farmers have already been participating in carbon modelling initiatives such as the ARCzero carbon neutral acceleration programme and local dairy farmers Hugh Harbison, Ian McClelland and former Dairy Council Chair Mark Blelock participated in a discussion panel with Wilco.
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