Dairy, beef and sheep farmers from around the country congregated at the NEC in Birmingham last Wednesday and Thursday for the Livestock Event, a key event in the farming calendar.
For us at AHDB Beef & Lamb and our dairy sector colleagues, it marked an important milestone, as it was the first opportunity we’d had to showcase our new brand to an audience of livestock producers.
For the first time, we had a joint stand with AHDB Dairy. Located in the Animal Health area, it was right at the heart of the show and a great spot for passing visitors.
The shared stand sent a clear message to levy payers that we’re increasingly working and acting as one organisation, and the feedback from those who came to see us was certainly positive. Many visitors were able to benefit from advice from AHDB staff on stand, with the joint approach enabling us to offer a wide breadth of expertise.
While the Livestock Event was the first time the beef and lamb and dairy divisions had exhibited under one AHDB banner, away from the bright lights of the NEC there has been plenty of joint working going on in the background.
With around 50 per cent of beef consistently coming from the dairy herd, and both sectors dealing with grazing livestock, the synergies that can be gained from working together are already being exploited by our research and development and knowledge transfer teams.
Recent joint ventures have included the Healthy Grassland Soils project, an online resource to help grassland farmers study soil properties and select the most appropriate management practices. Both sectors are also involved in the annual production of the Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL), which are a valuable source of information for all grassland producers.
We share the funding of several cattle health-related PhDs and are working on a series of parasite meetings as part of our association with COWS, the industry group aiming to promote best practice in the control of cattle parasites. Plus both the Beef & Lamb and Dairy divisions of AHDB are involved in the livestock industry data exchange project referenced in a previous post.
Areas of shared interest with some of the other AHDB divisions may be less evident, however there are certain themes that are common across all agricultural sectors. Crop nutrition, for example, is one of the key elements required to optimise production in any field. This is why AHDB is independently reviewing information in the current RB209 fertiliser manual, as well as more recent nutrient management research, in order to produce a new AHDB Nutrient Management Guide in 2017.
Innovation and technology is another significant area of overlap, and this will be in the spotlight at the AHDB Smart Agriculture Conference in September. The exciting new event will bring together scientists, researchers and engineers from multiple disciplines together to look at how advances in other industries can help address farmers’ needs, and which technological developments will be instrumental to the future of precision farming.
While you’re likely to see more of this joined-up approach in future, with the aim of getting maximum benefit from our levy income, it’s important to stress that our busy programme of work specifically aimed at the beef and lamb sector will continue as before.