Farmers across the country are investing in new technologies and methodologies designed to offset their carbon ‘hoofprint’. Three Waterford dairy farmers are leading the way.
Kevin Moloney and his business partner Mike O’Neill farm 350 cows in Knockanore, Co. Waterford. They have been farming together in a farm partnership for the last 7 years. They both previously farmed in the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) which was a scheme designed to reward Farmers for carrying out their farming activities in an environmentally friendly manner and to bring about environmental improvement on existing farms. Kevin is currently studying for a Diploma in Environment, Sustainability and Climate which is a joint venture between UCC and Tirlán.
Working with Nature
As a young progressive dairy farmer, Kevin believes in working with nature to farm more sustainably. He has undertaken several initiatives to lower emissions on his farm including the planting of trees and hedgerows, and installing two ponds and a nature area for wildlife. Kevin says,
“Last May we started growing some multi species swards on our farm. This is a mixture of grasses, red and white clover and herbs, chicory, and plantain. The benefits of a multi-species sward is that they require reduced fertiliser while maintaining a steady growth rate. A sward with a clover content of between 20-50 % can allow fertiliser application in the summer months to be halved. Living in the scenic Blackwater Valley, it’s important to keep respecting this land and the nature around it”.
Beyond production, farmers are dedicated to the environmental wellbeing of their farms. Moving fences out from hedgerows and watercourses to increase field margins – the areas between the grazing pasture and the field boundary – leaves space for nature and helps to keep pesticides, fertilisers and slurry away from watercourses and hedgerows. Irish farmers continue to deploy innovative technologies and sustainable practices while producing the best quality milk in the world.
Jody O’Neill farms with his father Joe, where they have introduced clover into their mix, 25 acres of red clover as well as hedge rows and trees. They farm 100 cows and use a GPS system for fertiliser.
“As farmers we understand our obligation to the environment and as a community, we are adopting new technologies and practices to reduce our impact and meet the challenge we have been set. My father has built a wind turbine on the farm, and we are also going to be installing solar panels in the coming year which will really help the farm to be even more sustainable. We have also introduced the planting of red clover on our farm since it helps maintain soil moisture and suppresses certain other weeds which uses less water and herbicide”.
Fit Bits for Cows
Liam Smith farms a herd size of 200 cows at Coolbeggan in Tallow and is a passionate young dairy farmer who cares for his animals like they were his own kids. Liam is also a passionate advocate for using technology to support his sustainable farming gols. An example of such technology is Fitbit-like devices that dairy cattle wear all day long. More accurately, these devices are known as automated health monitoring systems (sometimes referred to as rumination collars).
“The health and welfare of my cows is crucial to me and so I have introduced modern technology on my farm to monitor them throughout the day. These automated health monitoring collars sit around the cow’s neck and like a Fit Bit, they non-invasively keeps track of the cow’s rumination time and physical movement. These systems allow farmers like me to oversee a large herd without using a great deal of time and resources to do so.”
For further information on the sustainable practices of Ireland’s dairy farmers and to find out more about NDC’s Farmer Ambassador Programme please visit www.ndc.ie.
Contact: Cathy Curran, Communications Manager | NDC | firstname.lastname@example.org | M : +353 86 877 7664 | T: +353 1 290 2451
About the NDC
The National Dairy Council (NDC) champions the role of quality pasture-based dairy and its nutrition benefits in supporting healthier, more active living. The private farmer-funded marketing agency works to promote and protect Ireland’s dairy reputation at home and abroad and believes in a future in which Irish dairy is recognized and trusted as a vital part of people’s diet and general health across the life stages, indispensable to Ireland’s social and economic wellbeing.