EuroDairy is a new international network to increase the economic, social and environmental sustainability of dairy farming in Europe, at a time of unprecedented challenge for the sector.
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 Ireland to Poland, and from Sweden to Italy, 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.
The overall objective of EuroDairy is to establish a Thematic Network to increase the economic, environmental and social sustainability of European dairy farming. It will ‘unlock’ knowledge to increase the uptake of innovation and best practice.
Specific objectives are, to:
1. Accelerate the uptake of best practice by exchanging knowledge on four priority themes (resource efficiency, biodiversity, animal care and socio-economic resilience).
2. Capture and/or stimulate further innovative practice in order to provide solutions, or overcome barriers to implementation.
3. Synthesise the scientific and practice-based knowledge created, into user-friendly formats and training materials.
4. Disseminate this information widely to European dairy farmers.
5. Collate ideas from end-users for further innovation-driven research, and communicate these back to the EIP-AGRI network.
EuroDairy aims to strengthen the connection of science and practice, ensuring two-way flow of information and ideas within and across 14 EU Member States.
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.
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.