Solutions to deliver sustainable beef production webinar

Friday, 24 September, 2021

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has joined forces with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), Northern Ireland Meat Export Association (NIMEA) and National Beef Association (NBA) to deliver the third beef solutions webinar of the 2021 series, focusing on sustainable beef farming for the future. The webinar focuses on ‘Carbon – an opportunity and a challenge’ and will take place on Thursday 30 September, 8.00pm.

The webinar is specifically tailored for farmers and will focus on solutions that can be employed to further increase the sustainability of the beef industry in Northern Ireland (NI).

Webinar speakers:

Aileen Lawson (Chair) UFU senior policy officer

Aileen Lawson is a senior policy officer at the UFU. Aileen joined the team in 2001 after completing a BSc Hons degree in agricultural science with environmental science at the University of Edinburgh. Over the years Aileen has covered the following policy areas; pigs, poultry, food policy, rural affairs and rural development as well as leading on the UFU internal communications for a number of years. Since 2005, Aileen has worked on environmental issues for the UFU, an area of work that is continually growing.

Dr. Elizabeth Magowan, Director of sustainable agri-food sciences at AFBI

Elizabeth completed a PhD in dairy nutrition at Queens University, Belfast (with DARD Science Service and ARINI) in 2004 and joined AFBI as a pig research scientist in 2003. She developed the AFBI pig research programme until April 2017 after which she took up the post as director of sustainable agri-food sciences division.

Elizabeth’s current role involves co-ordination of AFBI’s science in sustainable agri-food production as well as leading important AFBI initiatives, including the development of important alliances and partnerships such as with QUB and CAFRE. Elizabeth is also currently a vice president of the British Society of Animal Science and a member of BBSRC’s Sustainable Animal Production Advisory Panel.

Elizabeth will provide an overview of what greenhouse gasses (GHGs) are and where they come from, GHG emissions from agriculture and the major contributions towards this. She will discuss some of the potential actions required within the industry to address the issue of emissions. This will include widespread and accelerated adoption of improved efficiency measures and genetic improvement. Future solutions will be touched on by Elizabeth for example diet additives, fertiliser formulations, technology to capture emissions at source and circular use of inputs grown on the farm. Elizabeth will highlight the continued importance of reducing N and P losses and promoting biodiversity on the journey to low carbon.

Bill Harpur, suckler beef farmer, Portrush

Bill farms 175 acres of light to medium land on the north coast, near Portrush. There are 60 suckler cows on the farm with all offspring taken through to finishing.  In addition to his beef enterprise, Bill grows up to 20 acres of cereals each year with the grain fed to beef cattle and straw used for bedding. He has made extensive use of various schemes over the years to improve the environmental credentials of his farm which have also created benefits for his main enterprises.

During the webinar, a short video taken at Bill’s farm which will be played, and there will also be an opportunity to hear more detail about the steps Bill has taken to improve the environmental sustainability on his farm and what changes he plans to make in the future to continue to lower the farm’s emissions.

Sinead Mathers, CAFRE agri-environment adviser

Sinéad Mathers comes from a beef and sheep farm. She has a degree in agriculture and a Masters in communication from Queen’s University, Belfast. Sinead started her career with the UFU and then worked with Elanco Animal Health in sales and marketing for several years. She joined CAFRE in 2019 as an agri-environment adviser and works with a number of environmental farming Business Development Group’s (BDG) including the North Antrim Group of which Bill is a member.

Bill is joined in the video by Sinéad who will talk particularly about the benefits of completing a carbon benchmark which Bill availed of through membership of the environmental BDG which she facilitates. Sinéad will outline the benefits of woodland, hedgerows, multi-species swards and growing feed used on farm to reduce carbon emissions and improve biodiversity.

Phelim Connolly, CAFRE agri-environment adviser 

Phelim holds a Bachelor of Science in agriculture with countryside management from the University of Aberystwyth and has worked with CAFRE for a number of years as an agri-environment adviser within the western beef and sheep team. Within his daily role, he manages several environmental BDG’s and facilitates farmer engagement and awareness, on topics such as soil health, water quality, carbon benchmarking and climate change issues.

The focus of Phelim’s presentation will be on the practical steps beef farmers can take to reduce their carbon footprint discussing key efficiency themes which will help their business to become more environmentally and financially sustainable.

Aleathea Brown, CAFRE senior technologist

Aleathea Brown is a senior technologist working for the Sustainable Land Management Branch in CAFRE. Aleathea’s work translates the latest research findings through a range of knowledge and technology transfer projects to make a positive impact on NI farm business. Recently her work has focussed on demonstrating the use of GHG calculators to measure a farm carbon footprint along with identifying mitigation strategies a farm can take to reduce its total GHG emissions whilst maintaining production and profitability.

Aleathea has worked for DAERA for 15 years in agriculture and environment roles in the field of science and technology. During this time, she spent two years working in DAERA policy division where she gained a Post Graduate Diploma in public administration policy, specialising in the environment. She graduated from Queens University, Belfast with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree and is currently a professional member of the Institute of Agricultural Management.

Aleathea will join the Q&A panel on the evening of the webinar to answer any questions around the carbon benchmarking process.

To register for the event, visit the following link or contact UFU HQ  028 9037 0222.