Recently completed research, co-funded by AgriSearch, at AFBI Hillsborough has highlighted the potential of home grown protein sources (namely field beans) to partially replace imported protein sources such as soya bean and rapeseed meal at rates of up to 4-5kg per cow per day with no significant impacts on cow performance. This indicates that home grown field beans have the potential to replace up to half the imported soya in typical dairy cow diets. This has the additional benefit of significantly reducing the cost of dairy cow rations.

AgriSearch Chairman Seamus McCaffrey said, “The importance of food security and shorter food supply chains has been highlighted by the current Covid-19 pandemic. Imported protein supplements are expensive and subject to price volatility. In addition, the long-term supply of non-genetically modified protein into Europe cannot be guaranteed. Reducing imports would both increase resilience in the sector and improve the carbon footprint and environmental sustainability of local dairy systems.”

“These results demonstrate the importance of research commissioned by AgriSearch. By levering co-funding from DAERA to fund these studies AgriSearch is delivering results that matter to farmers at great value for money.”

A copy of the full technical report is available to download from the AgriSearch website. A farmer’s booklet is currently being prepared and will be published in the summer.