The Dairy Council has launched their fourth annual EU Sustainable Dairy Fact Book focussing on energy efficiencies and innovations in the sector.
The Fact Book features case studies from local Finvoy farmer Alastair Taylor and also showcases the use of renewable Anaerobic Digestion technology at Ballyrashane Creamery.
Anaerobic Digestion has an important role to play in the future of decarbonising Northern Ireland’s heat, power and transport networks and the local dairy supply chain had helped prove the effectiveness of the technology, with many of Northern Ireland’s dairy processes already fuelled by renewable gas.
Other products from the AD process such as organic fertiliser and CO2 can be sold on as sustainable products – helping to create other commercial opportunities in rural communities.
Chief Executive of Dairy Council NI Mike Johnston commented: “With significant attention focussed on the future energy strategy for Northern Ireland, we thought it important to show the role that the dairy supply chain is playing in producing sustainable products and renewable energy to decarbonise both the dairy supply chain and other sectors throughout Northern Ireland.
“Whilst all of the investments and actions within the dairy supply have been effective in reducing emissions, it is essential that we continue our journey towards the ultimate goal of net zero, and, therefore, we need to continue to be mindful of the UN’s four pillars of sustainability - climate, nutrition, economy and culture. Without sustainable local dairy farm enterprises, we cannot achieve the ambition of a sustainable future.”
The publication concludes with a look at the role Northern Ireland dairy products play as part of a sustainable diet in the local and export markets. In Northern Ireland, they are the main providers of calcium, and dairy also supplies significant amounts of many other nutrients.
The Fact Book points out that many of the nutrients provided by dairy products are hard to replace and this should always be taken into account when planning a healthy, sustainable diet. There is already concern that some in Northern Ireland are missing out on vital nutrients and this is particularly true for teenage girls.
The local climate and topography mean Northern Ireland is well suited to producing high quality, nutritious dairy products from forage. DAERA research shows the sector has already made great progress in improving efficiencies to reduce the carbon intensity of a litre (excluding sequestration) of milk by almost 36% since 1990. During that same period the dairy sector has increased production by an impressive 81%, making the dairy sector an invaluable driver of the Northern Ireland economy.