Lismullin Conference focussed on Environmentally Sustainable Production

The annual Lismullin farming conference focussed on “The Farmer’s Role in Sustainable Food Production and as Custodian of the Environment.” The conference took place on Thursday the 21st of January. Keynote speakers included Matt Dempsey of The Agricultural Trust and Mary Delaney of Glanbia Agribusiness.


Speaking about the event, conference organiser John Byrne said the main themes of the conference were sustainability and caring for the environment: ” The conferences focussed on sustainable production while caring for the environment, this is what is needed for farming to thrive, and of course they are interlinked. Speakers throughout the day gave practical insight and ideas for farmers in Ireland to be competitive and efficient in our production.”

Speaking of Pope Francis Encyclical Laudato Si Matt Dempsey said from the farmers perspective the Pope struck a few chords that resonated strongly. “He speaks about a circular modal of production and discusses things like carbon storage technology and discusses biodiversity in an extraordinarily enlightened way. He calls for objective environmental impact assessment and it could be a direct reference to planned windmills in Meath when he talks of a shrinkage of visual horizons. We have to wonder why this sensible knowledgeable document received so little public debate and analysis.”

Andy Doyle who spoke at the seminar on challenges and opportunities for a future in tillage said productivity was key for survival. “It will have to be more yield for less cost, the sustainability of the sector must begin with the grower. For example improved soil health provides the opportunity to both increase crop yield potential and decrease production costs.”

Speaking at the conference Mary Delaney said that every industry and individual needed to play their part in addressing climate challenge. “Irish dairying has the lowest GHG emissions per kg of milk output in the, EU, however we need to continue to work together on this as we increase dairy production post milk quota. Many farmers have embraced practices which have led to greater efficiency but it is not always recognised that such practices are a necessary element of any effective response to climate change. The sector must do more to champion this message. Communication is critical and the appointment of a credible, independent expert to represent agriculture on climate change will facilitate this.”

Tony Doyle and John Hagan talked about Country Crest’s enviable sustainability programme explaining that they should soon reach their aim of 100% sustainable electricity usage. Currently 60% is provided by their own windmill. They also outlined the technological advances that contributing to sustainable production. For example, using GPS in soil test applications, they can test each section of land and apply only what chemicals are needed in that section.

Dorene Mallon lamented the fact that Irish beef does not have the same brand recognition internationally as Kerrygold butter. This is the way to add value to the product. Achieving this is a challenge for the industry and requires all concerned coming together to agree on and promote a national brand of Irish beef.