Over 100 farmers attended the recent ARCZero Farm Walk on “Net Zero and Animal Health” at the farm of Ian McClelland.
The walk was introduced by ARC Zero Chair, John Gilliland and the welcome given by CAFRE adviser, Michael Verner. Michael highlighted the critical role of measuring then managing, resulting in the high levels of technical efficiency being achieved by Ian on his 90 cow dairy herd. With an average yield of around 10,000 litres per cow, Ian has reduced his carbon footprint per kg of milk solids. His colleague Gary Haslem put N. Ireland’s farming carbon footprint into context and discussed the factors that influence a farms carbon footprint, focusing on how Ian has managed to reduce his carbon intensity by 13% within two years.
Animal health was a key focus for the event. Dr Chris McFarland from Queen’s University spoke on results of another EIP Project, “Targeted Selective Treatment of Anthelmintics” that Ian has been involved in. In addition, Dr Sam Strain from AHWNI spoke on the role Johnes Disease Control to help dairy farms reducing their emissions, highlighting the really strong link between animal health and GHG emissions.
During the farm walk visitors also looked at a recent reseed that Ian had sown which included considerable quantities of clover. They discussed how clover was successfully being used by Ian to reduce his nitrogen usage while maintaining his production.
At the final stop John Gilliland and Patrick Casement discussed the results of the ARC Zero measurements of Ian’s above and below ground carbon stocks on the farm showing that his farm is already storing over 33,000 tonnes of CO2e. They also discussed how Ian is using the run off risk map generated by the aerial LiDAR survey to plant a woody riparian strip in an optimal location to help reduce nutrient losses to improve water quality in his neighbouring water course.
Run off risk maps are being provided to all participants in the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme.
The next ARCZero farm walk will be held on Wednesday 24th May at the farm of Patrick Casement near Ballycastle and will be on the theme of “Net Zero and Biodiversity”. Farm walks will take place at 3pm and 7pm and places can be booked via the ARCZero website.
ARCZero, a farmer-led European Innovation Project co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). The EIP group which is led by Professor John Gilliland of Brook Hall Estate and Queen’s University, is comprised of seven innovative farmers from across Northern Ireland together with academic and industry partners including Devenish, Queen’s University, AgriSearch and Birnie Consultancy. It has been investigating practical ways to measure, manage and reduce carbon in ruminant farming. ARCZero has created a robust baseline of both emissions and carbon stocks and is now looking at how these farms can further reduce their emissions while increasing their carbon stocks in a manner which will accelerate their journey towards Net Zero.