‘Beacon farms’ could bring new systems to improve beef, sheep and dairy production

‘Beacon farms’ could bring new systems to improve beef, sheep and dairy production
Minister discusses new AgriSearch strategy during tour of potential “Beacon” farm in Ahoghill.

Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has met with AgriSearch to discuss its new strategy, in particular plans to develop a new ‘Beacon’ network of farms.

AgriSearch was formed in 1997 to provide a mechanism through which beef, dairy and sheep farmers could have direct involvement in production orientated research. Funds contributed to AgriSearch are used to commission research into the improvement and development of beef, sheep and dairy farming.

AgriSearch’s guiding principal is to provide practical benefit for primary producers to reduce costs, improve performance, drive innovation and improve welfare.

Recognising that the Research and Development (R&D) landscape is changing, and seeking to remain relevant and to deliver value for money for its levy payers, AgriSearch conducted a farmer survey, consulted with a wide range of stakeholders and set up an Expert Working Group to review its current strategic model and make recommendations to inform a new vision and strategy.

New farming systems

AgriSearch envision that Beacon farms will provide a structured network of farms which can be used for research with farmer’s demonstrating new farming systems.  Building on the success of the current GrassCheck network the Beacon Farm Network will include a range of dairy, beef and sheep systems from across Northern Ireland.

The network intends to demonstrate a holistic systems approach which delivers for people, planet and profit, and to provide contributions towards benchmarks for carbon sequestration and the benefits of ecosystem services delivered by farmers.