The sun shone all day at the Dairy Open Day at AFBI Hillsborough on Wednesday 6th June, but it was the science that shone brightest and was the star of the show.
Over 800 visitors attended the all-day event, entitled ‘Dairy Innovations 2018 – Profiting from AFBI Research’, which was supported by AgriSearch and CAFRE.
Farmers and industry visitors here guided around a number of in-field presentations where leading AFBI researchers presented key findings from their research. All of the messages were aimed at helping the local dairy sector improve production efficiency as well as the health and welfare of livestock, while also highlighting measures that can help reduce the environmental impact of dairy farming. AFBI researchers discussed issues around balancing soil nutrients to promote optimum grass growth and how to manage pre- and post- grazing residuals to optimise grass utilization. They also explained how to balance the use of concentrate feeding both as a supplement at grass and during the winter to drive milk output in an efficient and cost effective manner. The work AFBI is currently undertaking to address the hot topics of ammonia and TB was also discussed.
A major feature of this year’s event involved the opportunity to discuss how to adopt these innovations on farm with AFBI researchers and postgraduate students, AgriSearch staff, as well as CAFRE technologists. Field demonstrations of best practices in grassland management were followed by a visit to the new AFBI slurry separation facility aimed at reducing nutrient loading on farm. In the livestock housing facilities, AFBI researchers presented the use of new digital technologies and their application in all aspects of heifer rearing and animal welfare, while other experts demonstrated the latest findings in cow genetics and animal health.
The tour finished back in the research village marquee and courtyard which featured exhibits from AFBI economics, food and veterinary scientists, AgriSearch, AHWNI, CAFRE, Land Mobility, LMC, QUB, Rural Support, UGS, UFU and YFC. There was also the opportunity to receive a health check as part of the ‘Farm families health checks programme’ which is provided by the Northern Trust (HSC), and funded by DAERA and the Public Health Agency and also to discuss farm security with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
This large and exceptionally successful event was well attended by all sections of the dairy sector from near and far. The event was complemented with a comprehensive technical booklet describing the AFBI innovations that had been on display. This booklet is available online from www.afbini.gov.uk or if you prefer an emailed copy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.