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Innovation in Agriculture

Innovation in Agriculture
Pictured at the EUFRAS/IALB (European Forum for Agricultural and Rural Advisory Services) Conference 2016 in University of Limerick are speakers (from left): Inge Van Oost, EU Commission Speaker, Dr Tom Kelly, Teagasc and EUFRAS Chairman and Ulrich Ryser, Agridea, President IALB. The theme of this 55th conference (continuing until 22 June) is ‘Innovation Support for a Diverse Agriculture’.

‘Innovation Support for a Diverse Agriculture’ is the theme for a major international agricultural conference, EUFRAS/IALB Conference 2016 which is taking place at University of Limerick, from 19th – 23rd June. Delegates were welcomed by Professor Tom Kelly, Teagasc, and Chairman of EUFRAS and by Ulrich Ryser, Agridea, and President of IALB.

The Agricultural European Innovation Partnership and the role of Farm Advisors were addressed by Inge Van Oost, a policy officer at the European Commission, Directorate General Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI). She said: “The EU has a significant interest in the development of diverse, productive and sustainable systems of agriculture. The recent establishment of sectorial European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) represents a new approach under the Europe 2020 Strategy to speed up EU research and innovation. This Agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) aims to foster a competitive and sustainable agriculture and forestry sector that "achieves more from less". It contributes to ensuring a steady supply of food, feed and biomaterials, working in harmony with the essential natural resources on which farming depends.”

Fiachra Liston, a dairy farmer from Ballyculleen, Croom, Co Limerick, spoke about the Impact of Innovation on his farm. He said: “Innovation has played a major role in the development of my farm in the past 10 years. It has played a major role in grassland management, in genetics and sire selection, in financial management, in milking parlour design and cow flow. Without this on-going innovation my farm would be less sustainable and less profitable place to work today”.

He said: “Simple to use tools such as the Spring Rotation Planner, the Summer Grass Wedge and the Autumn Grassland Planner have made decision making around grassland management easier. Innovation around cow genetics and the use of genomics has even been more significant. The EBI (Economic Breeding Index) project has been in existence since 2002. I have embraced it whole heartedly as it has added profit to my farm. The use of genomics has also played a significant role. I now use Genomic A1 bulls for the vast bulk of my A1 use. Adopting innovation on my farm has been greatly helped by the support and advice given by my local discussion group (Kilmallock group) and my Teagasc advisor”. Aileen Walsh, Teagasc dairy business and technology advisor, highlighted the role of Farmer Discussion Groups in delivering financial gain and better practices on farm. She said: “Dairy Discussion groups allow me as an advisor to meet a group of farmers to discuss issues/topics relevant to the time of year. It is a sharing of ideas between farmers. These groups meet monthly and allow me to deliver technical advice in a very efficient and timely manner”.