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On-Farm Sustainability

Kerry Agribusiness is committed to protecting and improving the natural environment of our milk supplier base and ensuring the economic and social sustainability of current and future generations of our farm families. Our expert team engage with milk suppliers to enhance business and farm management practices that are focused on achieving continuous improvement at farm level. We place particular emphasis on improving soil health, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and grassland management techniques across our milk supplier base.

100% of Kerry Agribusiness milk suppliers are Origin Green Certified and are committed to further enhancing their sustainability credentials. This is achieved through an ongoing focus on increasing the number of days cows are at grass, improving herd genetics, enhancing nutrient use efficiency and reducing energy usage to positively impact on carbon efficiency.

Origin Green

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Origin Green is Ireland’s food and drink Sustainability Programme and brings together our food industry – from farmers to food producers, retailers to foodservice operators – with the common goal of sustainable food production. This programme enables Ireland’s food industry to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that respect the environment and serve local communities more effectively.  

Crucially, Origin Green is about measuring and improving how we do this on an ongoing basis. The Carbon Navigator tool enables farmers to benchmark themselves against their peers and set environmental and economic targets to further enhance the performance of their farm.

Soil Health

Managing soil health and nutrient use efficiency is essential at farm-level to ensure optimum grass quantity and quality for our grass-based milk production system.

Our milk suppliers adopt a five-step approach to ensure optimum soil fertility:

Soil Testing
  • To establish soil fertility status.
  • Soil pH & LIME
  • Low pH reduces fertiliser efficiency.
  • Target pH for grassland = 6.3.
  • Target Index 3 for P and K
  • Understand the Soil Index - TARGET INDEX 3 FOR P & K.
  • Apply additional fertiliser to low-fertility soils (Index 1 & 2).
  • Apply no additional fertiliser to high-fertility soils (Index 4) as these         are a resource and can save you money.
  • Slurry and manures
  • Apply to fields with a P & K requirement.
  • Nutrient Balance
  • Choose a fertiliser compound that has the correct balance of N, P, K       & S.
  • Grass Fed

    The Kerry Agribusiness catchment area is located in the south-west of Ireland where grass grows for about 330 days a year. Grass-based dairy systems in the area rely on matching grass growth with cow demand, hence why most suppliers are spring calving.

    Surplus grass grown during the summer months is harvested and stored as grass silage, which is fed to the cows during the winter period when cows are not lactating and during grass availability deficits at the beginning and end of the year. A small quantity of purchased supplement is also fed to cows in early and late lactation when grass availability is reduced.

    Weather and ground conditions permit cows to graze outdoors for most of the lactation period, as farmers aim to utilise this nutritious and high value feed.

    Animal Welfare

    During lactation, our cows are outdoors at pasture and able to move around freely and carry out their natural behaviours. Our farmers adhere to good animal welfare standards, routinely participate in animal health control programmes and adhere to the established best practice guidelines, such as that for mastitis control published by Animal Health Ireland.

    Our cows are selected for their high fertility, good health and longevity, meaning our animals live longer and are healthier. This helps ensure farms are efficient, sustainable and profitable.

    Environment

    The Kerry Agribusiness catchment area with its rugged coastline forms a significant portion of the spectacular Wild Atlantic Way. The landscape is characterised by hedgerows and lush green pasture among which our family farms are nestled. Intergenerational transfer is a key focus among our milk suppliers with family farms passing from one generation to the next, as a result, preservation of the natural environment is a key focus of our supplier base.

    Kerry Agribusiness and our milk suppliers are committed to building on our sustainability credentials through a strong commitment to the Origin Green Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme, under which all our milk suppliers are certified, and a focus on improving efficiency through initiatives such as the Monitor Farm Programme.

    Improving Soil Fertility and Protecting Water Quality : A guide for Dairy Farmers (Dairy Sustainability Ireland)