Biodiversity and Nutrient Management Planning
Soils are the cornerstone of production and we rely on them to provide healthy food, clean water, support wildlife, store carbon, recycle nutrients and protect livelihoods. The ground beneath our feet is one of the most diverse habitats on earth containing, thousands of different organisms.
We believe in nurturing at every step of our supply chain. This starts with the health of our soils. We believe it is important to support efficient production of food in a manner that is both sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
Our grass-based milk production systems rely heavily on soil quality to deliver profitable and sustainable production. Continued focus on the health of our soils is yielding strong results, with the overall trend for soil fertility increasing.
Soil Fertility Programme
Glanbia Ireland have formulated a soil fertility programme by where we encourage our suppliers to carry out soil analysis of their farms every 3-5 years. Based on those results we will provide a full farm, field-by-field fertiliser plan, balancing the nutrients produced on the farm to ensure soil fertility is maintained at optimum levels to maximise output, while at the same time not affecting the environment.
There is also a strong emphasis placed on soil pH, which is one of the key indicators of the health of our soils, and by ensuring the correct pH farmers can maximise the availability of nutrients applied. By encouraging soil analysis we are ensuring that farmers are aware of the status of their soils and the efficient use of the nutrients available to them. This is also avoid any possible losses to both waterbodies and the atmosphere.
We further recognise the increasing importance of protecting the diverse range of biodiversity on our Glanbia farms. Being cognisant of the fact that biodiversity is a primary environmental indicator of sustainable agricultural systems, we are working with our suppliers to ensure we are not compromising on-farm habitats and adopt a measure, manage and enhance philosophy.
Through our Open Source Future Farms knowledge-transfer programme, we are also measuring the level of biodiversity present on each farm and putting measures in place to enhance and manage these habitats; thereby providing a roadmap going forward for all our milk suppliers. A Biodiversity Management Plan is being developed by Teagasc Walsh Scholar Aoife Leader for the individual farms to provide strong learnings for all.
Irish farms are recognised as having a diverse range of habitats such as hedgerows, field margins, ponds and streams, native woodland and species-rich meadows and pastures; this is why farmland habitats are so important for Irish biodiversity.
By protecting and improving biodiversity on-farm we can provide a co-benefit to protecting water quality and reducing air emissions. Nationally, the Biodiversity action plan 2017-2021 recognises Ireland's continuing commitment to meeting and acting on its obligations to protect our biodiversity. We believe that our suppliers are committed to implementing on-farm practices and measures to support overall farm biodiversity.
We have a team of expert horticulturalists working in our Glanbia Ireland branches and CountryLife Garden Centres who are able to offer both farmers, and gardeners, advice on native Irish plants, pollinators to support bees and insect life, and provide best practice tips.
Many of our award-winning farmers have a strong biodiversity focus on their farms. Glanbia Ireland supplier Bryan Daniels, who won the coveted Grassland Farmer of the Year 2019 award, places a big emphasis on nurturing the soils and habitats on his farmland.
“We try to be fully sustainable in all aspects from environment to labour on-farm,” said Bryan, who encourages biodiversity through a ensuring a healthy balance by following a rotation in hedgerow maintenance each year.
Kieran Hearne, along with his wife Ann, was crowned the top-quality producer in the country at the National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards in 2019. The family farming at the foot of the Comeragh mountains outside Carrick-on-Suir in Co Waterford have expanded their farm in a sustainable manner to make it more profitable and continue to produce top quality milk.