Signpost Programme First Anniversary
The Signpost Programme celebrated its first birthday on 21st May last. The Teagasc-led, whole of industry, collaborative approach to supporting farmers in climate action was formally launched in May 2021. A lot has happened since then. This short article summarises the highlights of the past 12 months.
While many of the Signpost Farmers were selected at the time of the launch, we completed farmer selection in the second half of 2021. There are now 117 Signpost Farmers, including 48 dairy, 38 beef, both suckler beef and dairy calf-to-beef, 8 sheep and 7 tillage farms. Click here to view our demonstration farmers
Farm Sustainabilty Plan
A tailored Farm Sustainability Plan has been created with each of the Signpost Farmers by a Teagasc Advisor, identifying areas for future improvement.
The Teagasc National Farm Survey data recorders gathered data on each farm to allow for the calculation of a suite of sustainability KPI’s. We will shortly issue the first Signpost Farm Sustainability Report to each farmer. This report will provide a baseline figure for total farm GHG emissions for 2021.
All of the Signpost Farms were comprehensively soil sampled in autumn/ winter 2021/2022, a total of 2,928 soil samples were taken and analysed. This was part of the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory (NASCO) project. Agronomic results, soil pH, P and K levels, have been returned to advisers and farmers, for use in generating a Nutrient Management Plan. Further analysis is yet to be conducted on the samples to generate soil carbon results. Also as part of the NASCO project, a number of carbon flux towers have been installed, including a number on Signpost Farms, further towers are to be installed during 2022.
Teagasc Signpost Programme eNewsletter
Our signpost e-Newsletter was launched in June 2021, and we currently have a distribution list of 1,814 email addresses. Please encourage others to sign up to receive this monthly newsletter directly into their Inbox by sharing the link to the registration.
During the year, the Irish Institute of Training and Development awarded ICOS Skillnet, ICOS, Dairygold & Teagasc with the Pearse Walsh Award 2022 for their “Sustainability Programme - Practical Steps to more Sustainable Farming Systems”.
Also, during the year, we hosted a number of important visitors to a number of our Signpost Farms, including HRH Prince Charles, with thanks to Shane Fitzgerald, dairy farmer, Co. Waterford. Also EU Commissioner, Mairead McGuinness, with thanks to Alan Clarke, dairy farmer, Co. Cavan. Two Ministers of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett and Martin Heydon TD visited Tom Tierney’s farm in Kildare. Other visitors to Signpost farms included Green Party TD Minister Joe O’Brien and a group of DAFM Inspectors. The Signpost Programme team have also participated in a number of events, including hosting the Signpost Village at the Moorepark 2021 Open Day.
Finally, we have been busy designing and delivering training events both to colleagues within Teagasc, and also to our programme partners and to farmers. Recently, ICOS SkillNet, ICOS, Dairygold and Teagasc were awarded the Pearse Walsh Award at the IITD Annual Awards in recognition of our delivery of the innovative “Practical Steps to More Sustainable Farming Systems” programme.
All in all, it has been a busy 12 months, but I believe that the foundations have been laid to allow all of the Signpost Programme partners work together to support Irish farmers face both the opportunities and challenges ahead as they embrace more sustainable farming systems.