Visiting groups to AFBI Hillsborough

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THIS year has proven another busy year for visiting groups at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Hillsborough.

Over 50 groups have visited this year to see at first hand the research and development programmes on sustainable livestock and renewable energy systems. In recent weeks the dairy research programme has been the focus of two visiting group visits.

Dundalk Institute of Technology

Sixty Masters degree students from Dundalk Institute of Technology visited Hillsborough to be updated on the work on a range of environmental issues for the dairy sector. The visit began with a tour of the facilities to monitor methane emissions from cattle. Methane is one of the main greenhouse gases and AFBI is filling knowledge gaps in relation to emissions from dairy young stock and grazing dairy cows.

The role of the agri-food sector in producing renewable heat and electricity was highlighted in a tour of the Environment and Renewable Energy Centre with the students being informed about the latest renewable energy research findings. The visit ended with a tour of the dairy facilities, where nutritional studies are looking at options to improve reproductive performance of dairy cows and reduce nutrient loss from dairy systems.

Mole Valley Farmers’ Group

A group of 16 dairy technical specialists from the Mole Valley Group in south west England spent two days at AFBI Hillsborough for an update on the dairy research programme. Mole Valley is a large co-op supplying compound feed, fertiliser and seed to farmers in England and Wales.

On the first day the group were given an overview of research on dry cow nutrition. Next stop on the tour was the dairy heifer unit, where the group were able to view the facilities and also get a run down on current calf rearing studies and calf management practices. Day one concluded with an outline of the development of greenhouse gas calculators for the dairy sector.

Day two commenced with an overview of winter feeding and summer pasture research. This was followed by a session on cattle lameness and welfare research. Despite the less than clement weather, the visit was finished off with a tour of the Anaerobic Digester and the Environment and Renewable Energy Centre.

Such visits are important for the two-way flow of information to and from the industry.