West Offaly Dairy Group win Innovation Competition
The West Offaly group were the overall winners in the Dairy Discussion Group Innovation Competition, an exciting new project-based competition for dairy discussion groups, organised jointly by ACCBank, Teagasc, ICBF and the Farmers Journal.
The West Offaly Dairy Discussion Group won the national competition for their project – Operation Lifesaver. Group members implemented a combined total of 226 actions over the last year to improve health and safety on their farms. Health and safety featured at each monthly meeting of their discussion group in 2012, which was facilitated by Teagasc Dairy Business and Technology adviser Jim Moyles.
The new competition was launched earlier this year, with the objective of stimulating discussion among dairy discussion groups to allow for the development of the stronger bonds between members; and also to encourage the development of profit or lifestyle based innovations for widespread farm adoption.
Ten groups were short listed in the competition, and competed for a share of the €20,000 prize fund, as they presented their innovation projects before an audience of 250 farmers and industry representatives in Tullamore.
The two runner up groups were:
- The Crookstown group for their project - Genomic selection for female dairy fertility. They discovered that more durable cow families in their herds are genetically more fertile as well
- The Grassmasters Group, Skibereen for their project on designing a smart phone App to provide real time information on the value of milk solids sold. This innovation was adopted by West Cork co-ops and texts containing this information are sent to almost 900 dairy farmers in the region after each milk collection.
The industry award went to:
- The Fanesiders group for their project – ‘Pairs for Profit’. By visiting each others farms in teams of two to focus on dairy fertility, they improved profitability by over €8000 per farm through the improvements made
The reserve winners were:
- The Clonakilty Group – Labour efficiency in the group
- The Forge Group – Forge Genetics
- The Gorey Group – To develop a herd health plan template
- The Kilkenny Group – To develop farm assessment and progress monitor worksheets
- The South Offaly Group – Operation cost control
- The Navan Group – Managing mental health and identifying key triggers of stress.
Pat Byrnes, Agri Manager, ACCBank Limerick commented: “We are very pleased to be part of this innovative event, and we are delighted to see that innovation is alive and well in the agriculture sector.”
Tom O’Dwyer, Head of the Dairy Knowledge Transfer Teagasc said: “ The quality of the applications for this competition were excellent and have shown what can be achieved by dairy farmers coming together and applying innovative thinking to available technologies to deliver new solutions to farm challenges.”