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Drinks Ireland partners with Teagasc Signpost programme to support sustainable future supply of Irish grain

The Teagasc Signpost programme has announced a partnership with Drinks Ireland, which represents Irish drinks manufacturers and suppliers, to further reduce the environmental footprint of grain production, which is key to underpinning the future sustainability needs of Ireland’s drinks industry.

Pictured at the launch from L to R: Stan Lalor, Director of Knowledge Transfer, Teagasc; William Lavelle, Director of the Irish Whiskey Association, Drinks Ireland; Claire MacCarrick, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs manager at Irish Distillers; Minister Martin Heydon, TD, Minister of State at Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; Shane Kelly, Corporate Relations Director, Diageo; Avril Collins, Director of Corporate Affairs, HEINEKEN Ireland; Tom Tierney, Tillage Farmer and Tom O’Dwyer, Head of the Signpost Programme, Teagasc.

Working with Drinks Ireland and four of its leading member companies (Diageo, Heineken Ireland, Irish Distillers and William Grant & Sons), the partnership will lead and support the transition towards climate smart cropping systems that advance reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, while maximising carbon sequestration. 

Signpost Tillage farmers taking the lead in reducing environmental footprint

Each year, the Irish drinks industry is supported with grain production from more than 2,000 farmers producing approximately 300,000 tonnes of grain from approximately 45,000 hectares. The environmental sustainability credentials of the tillage sector are strong, with crop production producing the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per unit area of our main agricultural production systems. Nevertheless, to maximise sustainability and increase climate resilience in cropping systems, the Tillage farms in the Teagasc Signpost Farm Programme are taking a lead in the adoption and demonstration of key actions to further reduce environmental footprint of production. 

Some of the indicators of success will include; establishing ground cover for spring cereal production, and exploiting all appropriate IPM measures available to reduce pesticide use on farm, developing a plan to improve fertiliser use efficiency while replacing chemical fertilizers by up to 20% with organic manure as well as implementing a soil C enhancement programme. 

Welcoming the collaboration Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for research and innovation Martin Heydon, TD said: “Having been born and bred in a tillage heartland, I am incredibly proud of the sector and the work our farmers do. Food Vision 2030 recognises tillage as one of the most carbon efficient sectors of Irish agriculture and sets out a clear ambition to grow the sector. Given its significant contribution to the drinks industry, it makes sense to have close collaboration between all stakeholders to ensure we take advantage of potential growth in high value crops for distilling and brewing.” 

A dedicated advisor to work with tillage Signpost Farmers

Tom O’Dwyer, Head of the Teagasc Signpost Programme, said; “Teagasc is delighted to add this latest programme with Drinks Ireland to the family of programmes we currently have in operation under the overall Signpost Programme collection.  The funding provided by Drinks Ireland members will allow Teagasc to appoint a dedicated advisor to work with the tillage Signpost Farmers, as they work towards improving their farm sustainability.”

Speaking on behalf of Drinks Ireland, William Lavelle stated:  “The Irish distilling and brewing industries have a proud record of buying quality grain from Irish farmers. More recently, our industry has been directly working with farmers to support greater sustainability in Irish tillage farming. Drinks Ireland, along with four of our leading members, have decided to partner with Teagasc on this new Signpost Farm programme as a sign of our strong support for Ireland’s tillage farmers as they strive to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring a sustainable future supply of Irish grain for Ireland’s iconic drinks industry.”

Read more about the Teagasc Signpost Programme and the tillage Signpost Farmers 

Find out more information and advice from the Teagasc Crops team here.   The Teagasc Crops Specialists issue an article on a topic of interest to tillage farmers every Thursday on Teagasc Daily.  Find your local Teagasc office here