Our Farmer Suppliers
Carbery Group is 100% owned by four Irish milk co-operatives based in West Cork. These co-ops are, in turn, wholly owned by their farmer shareholders, many of whom (over 1,200) supply milk to our factory.
We recognise the importance of keeping pace with all new sustainability developments in farming and actively share these with our supplier farmers. By upskilling our farmer shareholders and enabling them to become more resilient, together we grow our businesses in a sustainable manner.
Carbery Greener Dairy Farms
In 2012, we launched Carbery Greener Dairy Farms™ (CGDF) an innovative, dairy efficiency programme designed to measure, monitor and optimise resource allocation and best practice on farm. Through the programme – Ireland’s first model for delivering best practice in sustainable dairy farming – we have been able to measure carbon, water and energy footprints at an individual farm level, as well as support on soil and nutrient management. By educating farmers on the importance of sustainable dairy production, we have supported them to reduce their energy use and carbon emissions as well as increasing awareness of the importance of managing water use.
In 2017 Carbery (in conjunction with Macroom E, and with the Environmental Protection Agency) launched a digital storytelling project around environmental sustainability with farmers in West Cork.
This was the first digital storytelling project of its kind with the agricultural sector in Ireland.
The farmers from the four Carbery Co-ops (Barryroe, Bandon, Drinagh and Lisavaird) recorded their environmental sustainability experiences, entirely in their own words and without direction, with the objective that the videos they created would engage other farmers in pro-environmental behaviours.
The education we provide to farmers has helped to advance their knowledge and competencies around sustainable farming and the importance of farming in a viable manner. Through the Retrospective Prior Learning mechanism at University College Cork, members of the CGDF programme were able to complete a Diploma in Environmental Science and Social Policy. 23 farmers from the group have graduated with this diploma to date.
- Carbon Footprint Reduction of 15%
- 20% increase in herd EBI – Every €10 increase in herd EBI can result in a 2% reduction in Carbon Footprint
- 10% increase in Milk Solids
- Biodiversity Mapping of Farms
- Reduced Energy Consumption
- Reduced Water Consumption
- Further education – 23 farmers graduated from University College Cork with a Diploma in Environmental Science and Social Policy
Improving Water Quality – Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme
Carbery is a founding member of Dairy Sustainability Ireland (DSI), which developed the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) in conjunction with other stakeholders. The collaborative initiative aims to improve Ireland’s water quality and support the goals of the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP – 2018) and Food Wise 2025. We work closely with the Local Authorities Waters Programme scientists, the Environmental Protection Agency and Teagasc to ensure the most relevant and up to date water science is available to our farmer suppliers in order to enhance and protect water quality.
In recent years we have recognised the work of our farmer suppliers in becoming sustainable, resilient farms. In 2019 we held our annual Milk Quality and Sustainability Awards. Four winners, one from each of the four West Cork Co-op’s were recognised for their excellence in sustainability.
Small Scale Bio-Refinery
In summer 2019, we tested a small-scale grass bio-refinery on five Carbery farms in West Cork – the first of its kind to be trialled in Ireland. The technology will allow farmers to diversify their business and generate a new income stream while contributing to a circular bio-economy. We are one of five participants in the project, known as ‘Biorefinery Glas’, alongside IT Tralee, Grassa, Barryroe Co-op and University College Dublin. Biorefinery Glas is a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Operational Group funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).
Farm Zero C – Creating a carbon neutral resilient dairy farm
The dairy industry is a key component of the Irish and European social and economic make up. The industry, the largest in Irelands agricultural sector, faces the challenge of reducing Greenhouse Gasses and ultimately becoming carbon neutral. In May 2019, Ireland declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.
A world first for agriculture, Carbery and its collaborators led by BiOrbic have undertaken an interdisciplinary programme of work targeting soil and grassland; animal diet and breeding; biodiversity; life cycle analysis and renewable energy as a direct response to the challenge area. This presents a holistic view of the farm to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the health and resilience of the farm. Farm Zero C is attempting to achieve a new sustainable business model for farming.