Hi-tech grass imaging ‘dairy drones’, soil sensors, and apps that monitor the behavior of cows will be showcased at the Moorepark Dairy Open Day in Cork next week. The event, held at the Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre in Moorepark, Fermoy, on Tuesday, July 4, will feature researchers from the VistaMilk SFI Research Centre presenting their groundbreaking work. Among the experiments on display will be the use of DNA to identify micro-bacteria in soils and the utilization of drones equipped with grass imaging technology to help farmers identify optimal grazing fields.
Interactive demonstrations will focus on sensor technology and its applications, including measuring soil nitrate content, monitoring grass moisture and composition, tracking animal glucose levels, assessing milk heat stability, and using smartphones to monitor cow grazing and resting times. The sensor technology being developed by VistaMilk researchers, led by Alan O’Riordan, senior research fellow at the Tyndall National Institute, will be a key highlight of the event. The dedicated VistaMilk area will feature teams sharing their expertise in four key areas of research and impact: soil, pasture, cow, and food.
During the event, researchers will discuss the benefits of adding clover to pasture to reduce nitrogen levels and the advantages of multi-species swards compared to perennial ryegrass. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions to experts such as Deirdre Hennessy, lecturer in sustainable agriculture at University College Cork (UCC) and funded investigator in VistaMilk. Other researchers will also be available in the Grassland village at the Dairy Open Day.
Elia Dufosse, a VistaMilk PhD student, will provide information on breeding programs that aim to produce more nitrogen-efficient cattle. Dufosse will also discuss how GreenFeed machines are being used to accurately measure methane emissions from the national herd and how this data is utilized to identify genetically lower-emitting animals.
Donagh Berry, director of VistaMilk, expressed his excitement about the Moorepark Open Day, stating that it offers dairy farmers, agri-food sector workers, and the general public an opportunity to experience firsthand the technologies and practices being developed to ensure the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of Irish dairy farms.
The overarching theme of this year’s event is “Securing a Sustainable Future.” Since the removal of milk quotas, the dairy industry has undergone significant transformation, facing challenges such as economic crises, global pandemics, and wars in Europe. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the next phase of development for the dairy industry as a whole. Teagasc, the agricultural and food development authority in Ireland, emphasizes the importance of aligning future developments with EU and national policy objectives, particularly focusing on reducing carbon emissions, improving animal welfare, enhancing water and air quality, and promoting greater biodiversity. Additionally, Teagasc aims to generate financially rewarding career opportunities that offer a favorable work-life balance.
Moorepark’23, the Dairy Open Day, will showcase the various technologies and practices available to farmers to ensure the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of their farms. The event will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn about the results of the comprehensive research program undertaken by Teagasc and interact with research, advisory, education staff, and industry partners.