R4D (Resilience for Dairy) is one of the most recent European projects to contribute to the social, economic and environmental development of dairy farming.


The project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, was launched in January 2021.  During the next three years, 18 organisations from 15 European countries will be cooperating under the leadership of the French Institut de l’Élevage IDELE.  Northern Ireland will be represented by project partner AgriSearch.


As the follow-up project to EuroDairy, it aims to strengthen the exchange between farmers, researchers and relevant actors of the dairy sector, with the intention of creating better solutions through the cross-fertilisation of stakeholders. Over the next three years, R4D will focus on three knowledge areas in order to enhance dairy farms’ sustainability:


  1. Economic and social resilience
  2. Technical efficiency
  3. Environment, animal welfare and society friendly production systems.


The participants of the project are working together on improving business and operational strategies for dairy farms, as well as stimulating positive interactions between farming communities and society.  They are searching for the most effective and innovative techniques to tackle the challenges of improving animal welfare, increasing biodiversity, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and lowering dairying’s environmental footprint.


To increase resilience and robustness of dairy farms, R4D will proceed through different steps.  From finding tailored solutions for different farms, to training sessions and e-learning webinars, the project participants from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Slovenia and Spain will cooperate to try out different models and develop a number of solutions.


The first stage of the project will create a network of resilient pilot farms and dairy organizations in Europe, that will be connected to the national dairy AKIS (agriculture knowledge and innovation systems).  This multi-actor approach allows the expression of the most urgent needs of the dairy farmers.  It will also result in a better understanding and greater exchange of knowledge, resulting in discovering and disseminating the most appropriate and effective innovative practices that will advance the dairy sector.


AgriSearch General Manager Jason Rankin said, “AgriSearch are delighted to be involved in the Resilience for Dairy thematic network.  Dairy farmers from across Europe are facing similar challenges around economic, social and environmental sustainability.  As we discovered with the EuroDairy project there is much to be gained from networking with our European colleagues and sharing innovative approaches to tackling these challenges.”