The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) recently welcomed a visit from the Senior Commercial Attaché to the Dutch Embassy, Ms Tessel Van Essen, the Agricultural Counsellor of the Netherlands Embassy, Mr Tim Heddema and Mr Carson McMullan, the Honorary Consul for the Netherlands in Northern Ireland, to its Hillsborough site.
The purpose of the visit was to view and discuss current research at AFBI which is examining a range of options to reduce the environmental impact of livestock farming while promoting the competitiveness of the industry.
The delegation discussed the overall impact of AFBI research on the local agri-food industry in Northern Ireland, both land-based and fisheries and then toured the specialist agri-environment research facilities on the Hillsborough farm. Key features of this tour included Dr Tianhai Yan presenting AFBI’s work on nutritional regimes to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus excretion as well as methane and ammonia emissions from livestock.
Mr Chris Johnston, outlined AFBI’s work on managing slurry to maximise its value in terms of energy and nutrient potential for export, as well as the use of fast growing woody tree species such as short rotation coppice willow, to reduce phosphorus runoff and hence protect and improve water quality. Dr John McIlroy concluded the presentations by highlighting the work which AFBI will undertake in the coming years to address ammonia emissions from livestock in two recently commissioned DAERA-funded projects.
Commenting on their visit Tim Heddema, Agricultural Counsellor commented: “It’s always a delight to see such passion for making farming more sustainable, efficient and a provider of public goods. The Netherlands and Northern Ireland have a lot in common in terms of the challenges our agri-food industry is facing. It is therefore worth it to foster a warm relationship, no matter what shape Brexit will finally take.”