A GROUP of 15 Carbery farmers recently graduated in Environmental Sciences and Social Policy from UCC.
The farmers are part of a group of 38 in total, since the launch of an innovative and unprecedented partnership with UCC, to have obtained this diploma thanks to what is called the retrospective learning device.
The partnership with UCC began in 2017 when a pilot project with a group of farmers from the Carbery Greener Dairy Farms program was launched.
The goal was to ensure that the practical learnings farmers learned from Carbery’s Greener Dairy program were academically recognized by UCC in what is called prior learning recognition, or RPL.
As part of this process, the CCU recognizes the skills, experience and abilities acquired by the farmers who participated in the project.
Farmers receive more than 60% of the credits needed for the UCC Level 7 Diploma in Environmental Sciences and Social Policy.
UCC then gives farmers the opportunity to obtain the remaining credits needed for the degree in a more formal learning environment.
Enda Buckley, Director of Sustainability at Carbery, said: “To date, 38 of our farmer suppliers have taken this course and graduated from UCC.
“It really gives these farmers a lot of self-confidence for what they’ve accomplished. And for us, it shows that our farmers have a head start in terms of interest and education in what sustainable agriculture is.
Belinda Gascoigne, who manages the program for UCC, added: “Through the RPL process, UCC was able to highlight and validate the tremendous work that farmers have done to make their farms both more sustainable and better. profitable.
“The key achievements of their agricultural career are now certified in a level 7 NFQ program”.
All graduates also participate in Carbery’s Greener Dairy Farming program, launched in 2012.
It is an innovative dairy efficiency program designed to measure, monitor and optimize resource allocation and best practices on the farm.
The main objective was to introduce efficiency gains and improve environmental sustainability on the farms of Carbery’s milk suppliers.
Initially, a group of 12 dairy farms participated in the program. Over the years, that number has grown to 70.
Through this program – Ireland’s first model for implementing best practices in sustainable dairy farming – Carbery farmers were able to measure carbon, water and energy footprints at the farm level, as well as support farm management. soil and nutrients and water quality.
Funded and organized by Carbery, by sensitizing farmers to the importance of sustainable dairy production, they were supported to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions, as well as to raise awareness of the importance of management. of water use.
The program was a precursor to several of the principles now in the Teagasc MACC (to reduce agricultural emissions) curve.
It was also the genesis of some of the approaches tested as part of Carbery’s groundbreaking Farm Zero C project.
Program participants saw a 15% reduction in the carbon footprint of these farms.
The CGDF also showed that for every liter of milk produced on these farms, it only takes 6.5 liters of water to produce it.
In other countries, the water footprint figure would be a multiple of 6.5.
Carbery is now accepting applications for participants in next year’s program. All of their interested suppliers are encouraged to contact any member of Carbery’s sustainability team.
GRADUATES OF THE UCC DIPLME
Participants in the program included many members of the Bandon, Barryroe, Drinagh and Lisavaird cooperatives:
John Joe O’Sullivan; Sean Deasy; Darragh Kennedy; Cormac O’Keefe; Cyril Draper; Gérard Lehane; John J McNamara; Glenn Forde; John Hurley; Thomas Griffin; Padraig Hayes; Norman Tuthill; Donal O’Connor; James Fitzpatrick; Sam Kingston and Aidan McCarthy.
Laurence Sexton; Denis O’Donovan; Tim Sexton; James Hurley; Andrew Whelton; Marguerite Crowley and Martin Coleman.
Carmel Keohane; Owen O’Brien; Jessica Hawkes; Vanessa O’Connor; John Ian Kingston; Caroline Walsh; Jer O’Brien; Eamonn Ryan; Peter Fleming; Brendan Brady; Diarmuid Manning; Tadhg O’Mahony; Michael Nyhan; Micheal O’Mahony and Dermot O’Leary.