EuroDairy, a new international network, has been formed to increase the economic, social and environmental sustainability of European dairy farming as it faces unprecedented challenges.


AgriSearch, the NI Agricultural Research and Development Council, is one of the founding partners of EuroDairy. Founded by the farming sector in 1997 AgriSearch gives Ulster producers a direct involvement in research of practical value to farm businesses.

Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme EuroDairy will foster the development and dissemination of practice-based innovation in dairy farming, targeting key sustainability issues following the abolition of milk quotas: socio economic resilience, resource efficiency, animal care, and the integration of milk production with biodiversity objectives. 


EuroDairy spans 14 countries, from Portugal to Poland, and from Sweden to Spain, encompassing 40% of dairy farmers, 45% of cows and 60% of European milk output. The project adopts the interactive model of the European Innovation Partnership, putting farmers at the centre of practice-based innovation, adapting and developing new and existing scientific knowledge to produce implementable solutions, which can then be shared across the network. 


In the EU regions, farmer-driven ‘Operational Groups’ will come together to target specific problems or opportunities for the dairy sector. At national level, EuroDairy partners will stimulate the establishment of these ‘multi-actor’ groups consisting of farmers, advisors, vets, researchers etc. and the EuroDairy network will link these existing and new groups cross-border, so that innovations identified in one country or region, can be shared with another. In addition, the project will establish 120 innovating dairy farmers across Europe to demonstrate best practice, and push boundaries in the application of new knowledge.   AgriSearch will be commencing recruitment of a number of pilot farms in Northern Ireland during April.


Omagh milk producer Drew McConnell, Chair of AgriSearch’s Dairy Advisory Committee said, ‘AgriSearch is delighted to be a partner in this project as  encouraging the adoption of innovative, science-based practices in farming is at the core of our mission so this as an excellent opportunity to work with others across Europe in this endeavour’


Katrine Lecornu, President of European Dairy Farmers ‘EDF is very pleased to be part of this project at a crucial time for European dairy farming. The ethos of EDF, to highlight the impact of translating science and innovation into commercial practice is a perfect complement to EuroDairy’.


Richard Holland, Chairman of the European Cattle Innovation Partnership ‘The involvement of dairy levy bodies, farmers’ organisations and cooperatives, and knowledge institutions in an interactive bottom-up approach will ensure the work has practical relevance, and multiply the benefits across Europe’.


Ray Keatinge, EuroDairy Project Coordinator, AHDB Dairy ‘EuroDairy is a huge opportunity for dairy farmers to interact and exchange knowledge with scientists, industry experts and each other. I am very much looking forward to working with our 19 partners, and their associates in the main milk producing regions of the EU, to help make a real difference to the sector’.    


List of EuroDairy Partners


EU Member State


United Kingdom


The Netherlands

DLO Foundation Wageningen University and Research Centre


Innovation Support Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development


The Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research




Natural Resources Institute Finland


French Livestock Institute


National Interprofessional Centre of the Dairy Sector


University of Kiel




Research Centre on Animal Production

The Netherlands

DairyNL organisation of the Dutch dairy supply chain

The Netherlands

The Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organisation


Warsaw University of Life Sciences


University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro


University of Ljubljana


Agricultural Cooperative Union of Galicia


Basque Institute of Agricultural Research and Development


The Federation of Swedish Farmers

United Kingdom

AHDB Dairy


Background to EU Horizon 2020 programme (ISIB2): Closing the research and innovation divide.

The Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) in Europe are very different between countries, regions and sectors, and generally don't fully meet the challenge to increase simultaneously productivity and sustainability in agriculture and rural areas. Despite the continued generation of knowledge through scientific projects, research results are often insufficiently exploited and taken up in practice, and innovative ideas from practice are not captured and spread. The AKIS Collaborative Working Group of the Standing Committee of Agricultural Research draws distinction between science-driven research and innovation-driven research. To foster economically viable and sustainable development in agriculture, forestry and rural areas it is essential to close this research and innovation divide.

Further, cooperation between research and extension services or farmers and other actors in the supply chain is crucial for innovation-driven research and should be promoted, notably through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP). Therefore, mechanisms and networks, which stimulate this interaction and knowledge exchange, should be developed to make best use of resources and enhance the transition to innovation-driven research. Making available science and practice based information is an essential condition for the setting up of EIP operational groups.


European Cattle Innovation Partnership (ECIP)
ECIP is a collaboration of European dairy levy bodies and farmer representative organisations working to improve the competitiveness and longterm sustainability of dairy farming.  A specific objective is to work more closely in the coordination of applied research, development and knowledge exchange to maximise impact, reduce duplication and increase the value of levy spend.