The farmer-funded research and innovation body, AgriSearch has said the role of R&D and innovation will be centre-stage in tackling the challenges the livestock sector is facing regarding the environment.

“The adoption of innovative techniques into everyday working practice will demonstrate the lower carbon footprint for Northern Ireland red meat and dairy produce and show that the sector overall is delivering a wide variety of ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration to meet its obligations to the environment,” said AgriSearch Chairman John Henning.


AgriSearch Chairman John Henning OBE

His comments come on the back of the publication of AgriSearch’s 2018-2019 Annual Report. It highlights the emphasis the organisation is placing on knowledge exchange at farm level to ensure that best practice arising from the research it has successfully commissioned is adopted. AgriSearch commenced 12 new projects in its last financial year. “As a small charitable organisation, AgriSearch managed to punch well above its weight. It made its levy income of £455,754 for 2018-2019 work for farmers by commissioning a total research spend of over £21M from the EU, DEARA and other sources. This brings the total value of research commissioned by or participated in by Agrisearch for the benefit of the local livestock ruminant sector to £58M. “All of these funded projects are helping to deliver real improvements in productivity and efficiency with less waste and impact on the environment,” continued John Henning.

“During a time of unprecedented public scrutiny, this investment demonstrates our responsibility to the environment and animal welfare.  Over the past year AgriSearch has worked collaboratively with research partners, a growing team of farmer co-researchers, the wider agri-food industry and government to make sure the Northern Ireland ruminant livestock sector is competitive, profitable and sustainable.”

As well as managing its portfolio of projects, AgriSearch activities included several knowledge exchange events and a series of six beef, sheep and dairy farm walks including RamCompare. It also published a Guide to Zero Grazing and engaged with the industry through attendance at key trade fairs and shows and an increased emphasis on communications. In the past year, AgriSearch was  active in promoting the leading sustainability credentials of Northern Ireland’s dairy sector by hosting international meetings in Belfast and through speaking engagements in Europe.  

Going forward AgriSearch says it will be stepping up its knowledge exchange and best practice sharing. It also looks forward to seeing the big challenges facing the sector tackled collaboratively by working with a locally accountable government through the recently appointed NI Executive.  

A copy of 2019 AgriSearch Annual Report can be viewed by clicking here