An event at the Farmers Club in 2011 was the catalyst ultimately leading to a successful bid for EU funding for a thematic network to share information across the European dairy industry – EuroDairy.
That event was the brainchild of Richard Holland, then chairman of the Farmers Club. With funding from BioSciences KTN, farmer-funded levy bodies from across Europe were brought together to discuss the potential for closer collaboration. As a result, the European Cattle Innovation Partnership (ECIP) was formed under a Memorandum of Understanding, signed in June 2012, by partners in Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, France, GB, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Italy and Israel.
Focussing on farmer requirements, the aim is to work more closely in the co-ordination of applied research, to ensure better value for money for levy-funded research and development, by sharing knowledge, avoiding duplication, and ensuring better translation of research results into practice.
Taking collaboration to the next level, ECIP partners are key players in a new EU Horizon 2020-funded project coordinated by AHDB Dairy. ‘EuroDairy’ aims to increase the economic, environmental and social sustainability of dairy farming by sharing information, best practice and technical innovation across member states.
From Ireland to Poland, and from Sweden to Italy, 19 industry partners span 14 countries, representing 40% of dairy farmers, 45% of cows and 60% of milk output in Europe.
The project focuses on four main topics – improving resource efficiency (e.g. precision feeding, soil fertility and nutrient management, water and energy efficiency), animal care (e.g. reducing antimicrobial use, improving welfare, and optimising the housed environment for dairy cattle), socio-economic resilience (e.g. farm profitability, resilience to volatility, labour use, succession and quality of life) and biodiversity (e.g. integrating profitable dairy farming with care for the environment).
Farmers are at the heart of EuroDairy. The approach revolves around the use of ‘multi-actor’ groups, drawing in relevant parties (e.g. farmers, vets, researchers, commercial companies –appropriate to the topic), so that practical knowledge is exchanged, rather than being driven top down, or from a research-led agenda.
The project will identify, develop and demonstrate best practice on 120 pilot farms, located across Europe and costed according to the European Dairy Farmers cost of production model. These farms will be deliberately chosen to be pushing at the boundaries of good performance, but still have some room to progress along their chosen development path.
The project will run for three years to February 2019. If you are interested in finding out more, or discussing participation as a pilot farm, please get in touch.
Head of Animal Science
Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board
024 7647 8687
07969 837 909