Dumfriesshire To Solve Environmental Dairy Problems

UK - The practical steps dairy farmers need to take to meet current and future environmental legislation and reduce costs will be the focus of a free MDC event in Dumfriesshire on 24 October.
calendar icon 12 October 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

The event, in association with FWAG, at Beyond the Burn Farm, Mouswald will showcase the range of measures the Lochhead family have successfully introduced - from operating in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) and manure and nitrate management to energy saving.

Key speakers will include Joe Fergusson of Energy Agency on the topic of renewable energies and FWAG’s Wendy Fenton who will discuss energy and water conservation. Host farmers, Gavin and Jonathan Lochhead, will review feed and alternative cropping plans for their 140 cow organic unit.

The Lochheads run the UK’s largest Brown Swiss herd with their cows averaging 7500 litres and on course to achieve 8000 litres. Cows each receive two tonnes of organic concentrates a year and their milk is sold through Organic Milk Suppliers Co-op, averaging 27 pence per litre over the past year.

The family has a long standing interest in conservation, particularly relating to trees and hedges, and the whole farm is located in the Lower Nithsdale NVZ. A new 360,000 gallon slurry store was erected in 2004 with assistance from the 40% grant available.

Producers at this month’s event will also hear the results of an environmental audit conducted at the farm by FWAG and the key action plans flagged up.

Kate Cross, MDC extension officer in Scotland, says dairy farmers are now required to comply with a range of environmental regulations including requirements under the Water Framework Directive and NVZs.

Producers are also being bombarded by recommendations including catchment sensitive farming, Carbon Trust, energy conservation and new sustainable consumption and production measures.

“While dairy farmers’ knowledge of the regulations is increasing and the majority are willing to comply, many producers are unclear on how to implement the rules in practice,” says Ms Cross.

“A key focus of our event will be the impact of major changes expected in the new NVZ consultation paper. We will look at storage issues and the likely effect of longer closed periods and there will be a discussion on improving the efficient use of manures and slurries which will also help cut fertiliser use and costs,” she adds.

And she emphasises that while the host farm is organic the event has a great deal to offer producers operating conventional, non-organic systems as many of the principles are transferable with the direct benefit of complying with new regulations.

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