Teagasc National Dairy Conference

Kilkenny People reporter

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 Dr Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer; Catriona McHugh and Edmond McHugh, dairy farmers and conference speakers; Con Feighery, Teagasc Wh/Oy/Cn/Mn Regional Manager and Eamon Duigna

Sustainability comes to the forefront at this year’s Teagasc National Dairy Conference. This year’s conference takes place on Tuesday, 3rd December in Killarney and on Thursday, 5th December in Mullingar.

Over the past number of years, sustainability from a number of perspectives has come increasingly to the forefront of Irish dairying.  Farmers who recognise the challenges that this presents, and adapt accordingly, will continue to thrive and prosper in the years ahead.  This year’s conference will provide guidance on “being a sustainable dairy farmer”, and the steps that dairy farmers can take to ensure that their farming operations are profitable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable.

Tom O’Dwyer, Head of Teagasc Dairy Knowledge Transfer commented that “being a sustainable dairy farmer will involve both adopting new technologies, while also renewing the best practices of the past.  Irish dairy farmers have never been slow about adopting research proven technologies; the challenge over the years ahead will be to adopt new technologies to make their farms more sustainable.  So for example, Teagasc research has identified a range of measures to allow dairy farmers reduce their environmental footprint and three of these technologies will be highlighted at the conference, namely the use of protected urea, the application of slurry using low emission slurry spreading (LESS) and the incorporation of white clover into grassland swards.”

As well as several Teagasc speakers, a number of dairy farmers will address the conference, highlighting how they have improved the sustainability of their farming businesses.

Karol Kissane farms in Asdee, Co. Kerry.  He will outline at the Killarney event how he has successfully made the transition to full-time dairying, following a varied career path.  “I trained as an accountant and spent a number of years working in Dublin.  Having always had a love of farming, I decided to head back to Kerry where I started dairying back in 2013.  I’m now milking 100 cows on a 30 hectare milking platform and love the life that dairying gives me and my family.”

Ciaran Kavanagh, originally from Wexford but now farming in Offaly, will share the story of his journey to dairy farming at the Mullingar conference.  “I qualified as a farm manager and spent 19 years working on various farms, including ten years as a farm manager.  My wife and I took the decision to become shop-keepers in 2000, due to a lack of opportunities in dairy farming at that time.  In 2013, we managed to buy 200 acres in Offaly and we also purchased calves that summer; we commenced milk production in 2015.  My wife Kathy really loves farming and we are in this together.”

The Teagasc National Dairy Conference 2019 takes place on Tuesday 3rd December in the Killarney Convention Centre, Killarney and on Thursday 5th December in the Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar.  Visit www.teagasc.ie/dairycon19 to find out more and to book your tickets.  Early booking is recommended.  The cost of attendance is the same as previous years: €30 for students, €60 for Teagasc farmer clients and ConnectEd members and €120 for all other attendees.  Registration includes: entrance to Conference; morning/ afternoon teas, lunch; and a copy of the Conference proceedings.  There is an early booking discount until the middle of November.