Both Northern Ireland and the Republic have joined an international research network which aims to make European dairy farms more resilient.

R4D (Resilience for Dairy) is one of the most recent European projects to contribute to the social, economic and environmental development of dairy farming.

The project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, was launched in January 2021.

The project will run for three years and involve 18 organisations from 15 countries, including Germany, Poland, France, Denmark, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Hungary and Finland.

Northern Ireland will be represented by AgriSearch and Teagasc will represent the Republic of Ireland.

Dairy resilience

As the follow-up project to EuroDairy, R4D aims to strengthen the exchange between farmers, researchers and relevant actors of the dairy sector, with the intention of creating better solutions of some of dairy farming's biggest challenges.

Over the next three years, the project will focus on three areas:

  1. Economic and social resilience;
  2. Technical efficiency; and
  3. Environment, animal welfare and society friendly production systems.

Participants in the project will work together to improve business and operational strategies for dairy farms, as well as stimulating positive interactions between farming communities and society. They are searching for the most effective and innovative techniques to tackle the challenges of improving animal welfare, increasing biodiversity, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and lowering dairying’s environmental footprint.

The project will include providing tailored solutions for different farms, as well as training sessions and e-learning webinars.

Next steps

The first stage of the project will create a network of resilient pilot farms and dairy organisations in Europe, that will be connected to the national dairy agriculture knowledge and innovation systems. This approach allows the expression of the most urgent needs of dairy farmers.

It will also result in a better understanding and greater exchange of knowledge, resulting in discovering and disseminating the most appropriate and effective innovative practices that will advance the dairy sector.

AgriSearch general manager Jason Rankin said: “AgriSearch are delighted to be involved in the Resilience for Dairy thematic network.

"Dairy farmers from across Europe are facing similar challenges around economic, social and environmental sustainability.

"As we discovered with the EuroDairy project, there is much to be gained from networking with our European colleagues and sharing innovative approaches to tackling these challenges."