Dairy Beef 500 Spring Walk – Donegal, Ireland

As part of the Climate Farm Demo project events are being held across a network of farms spread across 27 project partner countries in Europe. The demonstration events are funded under the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme.

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Gareth Peoples, a farmer in Donegal has been making significant strides in sustainable agriculture with his innovative approach to dairy calf-to-beef systems. At his farm, spanning 50ha of grassland alongside tillage enterprises, Gareth focuses on both profitability and environmental stewardship.

Last year, Gareth reared 85 calves, evenly split between autumn and spring. This year, he plans to rear 35-40 spring calves. All animals are brought to slaughter on the farm, showcasing a fully integrated production system.

In terms of climate action, Gareth employs various strategies, including the use of protected urea, low-emission slurry spreading, lime application, and soil fertility improvement. These efforts not only enhance productivity but also mitigate emissions, contributing to a more sustainable operation.

The recent Dairy Beef 500 – Spring Walk event provided a platform for discussing farm financials and the crucial link between profitability and emissions reduction. Key topics included grassland management, herd health planning, and the significance of sourcing calves off-farm to minimize disease risk and improve genetic quality.

Sourcing calves off the farm as opposed to marts has made life easier here and limits the risk of disease,” Gareth emphasises. By prioritising the Dairy Beef Index, Gareth ensures he purchases calves with superior genetic merit, a decision he believes will ultimately boost profits.

Tommy Cox, Teagasc advisor, commends Gareth’s remarkable progress over the past two years. “Grassland management on the farm has improved immensely,” Tommy notes, attributing Gareth’s success to his focus on soil fertility correction and reseeding. As a result, Gareth has managed to reduce the age of slaughter while achieving greater live weight gains, effectively lowering emissions on the farm.

The recent Dairy Beef 500 – Spring Walk event further highlights the importance of knowledge-sharing and collaborative efforts in advancing sustainable agriculture. Through platforms like these, farmers like Gareth can exchange insights, learn from each other’s experiences, and collectively work towards a more resilient and climate-resilient agricultural sector.

As the Climate Farm Demo project continues to unfold across Europe, Gareth’s success story serves as a testament to the transformative potential of Climate Smart Farming. By accelerating the adoption of innovative practices and solutions, the project aims to catalyse widespread change for a more sustainable agricultural sector.

Further details of planned events for each country are available on the project website, with details being updated regularly.

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