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Dairy Council

Nature Positive Dairy

The RSPB in Northern Ireland and the Dairy Council have joined forces alongside the Nature Friendly Farming Network to produce ‘A Guide to Nature Positive Dairy Farming’.

The guidelines, the first-of-their-kind in Northern Ireland, provide a comprehensive roadmap towards nature-friendly farming practices for NI Dairy.

We are working together to improve biodiversity on NI dairy farms through nature-friendly initiatives such as high-quality hedgerows, wildlife corridors and grazing management.

With a network of over 3,000 family farms, our dairy sector makes up a substantial portion of NI agricultural land, providing a unique opportunity to champion nature-friendly initiatives.

The RSPB NI has worked with us undertaking a series of farming workshops and testing on five representative dairy farms to outline a comprehensive menu of practical measures which can be taken to support nature positive farming. 

Read the Guide to Nature Positive Dairy

The Guidelines at a glance

  • Dairy farmers are encouraged to maintain and improve existing habitats or create new ones, to maintain and create ditches, and to create flower and seed-rich habitats on their land

  • The report details how wet ditches can provide ideal spawning areas for amphibians and how wildflowers provide pollinators with nesting sites and an important food source

  • DCNI has been encouraging the maintenance or creation of high-quality hedgerows as a carbon mitigation for many years, and the report highlights the myriad of benefits such as slowing runoff, increasing soil water retention, reducing soil erosion, and improving water quality

  • It also highlights the importance of hedgerows for wildlife, the preservation of biodiversity, flood risk reduction and to ensure better protection for ecosystems

  • Farmers are encouraged to ensure wildlife corridors are in place and that they optimise slurry applications as well as implementing good grassland management systems, practicing conservation, rotational and deferred grazing, having low-input grassland and multi-species swards as well as conducting a whole-farm soil analysis

  • Clover in pasture has also been identified as having a positive effect on carbon sequestration and enhancing biodiversity and improving forage quality. It also results in reduced inorganic nitrogen inputs and reduced losses to the environment

  • The implementation of buffer strips to protect watercourses and the avoidance of applying nutrients to areas of high-water flow are also suggested, as is the use of integrated parasite management

  • Finally, the report recommends that farmers create wet features and use constructed wetlands to collect and treat dirty water, as well as providing nesting opportunities for birds.