Milky way

Dairy Cows

Dairy Cows

14 April 2011

Scientists at Aberystwyth are heading an international project to support organic and low input dairy farming.

The University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) is taking the lead amongst 26 partners from 11 different countries on a project called SOLID – Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying.

The five-year £5.28 million project started earlier this month.

The main aim of the project that includes cows and goats, is to improve breeds and feeding methods to maintain productivity and to improve animal health and welfare, while meeting the market’s demand for high quality milk.

Farmers and SME companies in the UK and Europe will be working closely with scientists to find fresh and innovative ways of tackling practical problems, increasing productivity and quality without putting more strain on the environment.

One of those companies is the co-operative organic milk business, Calon Wen, in south-west Wales. Another is OMSCo, the largest UK supplier of organic milk.

“The involvement of farmers and SMEs such as OMSCo and Calon Wen in the UK will be vital in this project. The aim is to find new methods and techniques that work for them. We are delighted to be leading the work and bringing together our international partners. IBERS is already carrying out world-class research in many of the relevant fields.” said Professor Nigel Scollan, SOLID Co-ordinator at IBERS.

Roger Kerr, Managing Director of Calon Wen said: “Calon Wen is delighted to be involved in the project. Understanding and developing sustainable farming systems is going to be critical over the coming years as we ensure equity within the supply chain as the pressures for energy, water and land grow. Anything that aids our understanding of this and allows us to build a robust food system for the future has to be a priority.”

IBERS is well placed to lead the project that includes New Zealand and ten other European countries. The Institute’s scientists are carrying out research in several crucial fields.

SOLID will:

•        Use the latest scientific techniques to help cows and goats to adapt to organic and low-input systems, with few or no chemicals and artificial feedstuffs.

•       Develop new and sustainable foodstuffs and improve the quality, yield and management of forage crops.

•        Assess and improve grassland dairy systems, including home-grown forage supplies.

•        Develop new methods and strategies and improve collaboration along the supply chain, from farm to fork.

•        Share the knowledge with groups of farmers and the dairy industry in order to make the most of the project’s successes at all levels.

“The decision to ask IBERS to lead this project shows how high the Institute’s reputation is within the industry. SOLID fits perfectly with our vision of using world-class science to improve farming in Wales and across the world. This work could be of great benefit, not only to organic and low input agriculture but also to the environment and consumers.” – Professor Wayne Powell, Director IBERS.