EUROPEAN Innovation Partnership (EIP) Wales is excited to have now approved 16 novel projects that are looking to tackle a variety of issues facing the agricultural and forestry sector.

EIP Wales, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes, aims to take the outcomes from research, whether it’s a new technique or technology, and test them at farm scale. With 86 farmers/foresters and 23 non-farmer members involved in these 16 projects, EIP Wales brings like-minded people from different backgrounds together to try and solve common agricultural problems.

With many unknowns about the future of agriculture in the UK after March 2019, EIP Wales offers the chance for farmers and foresters to invest in what is known, the knowledge and innovation that has come from research, to ensure long-term productivity.

The objective of agricultural research is for the practical knowledge that’s gained to be used on the ground by farmers and foresters. There are many smart, interesting, and impressive ideas and tools out there that could make businesses more competitive. Through EIP Wales groups can access up to £40,000 of funding to trial them in their systems.

Three upland farmers near Blackmill, Bridgend have now finished reseeding 4-5 ha fields, half with a multi species ley and the other half with a conventional ryegrass/white clover ley as part of a 3 year alternative forages project. The project will investigate the productivity and economic performance of both leys when grown on upland sites. If increased species diversity can also reduce lamb finishing times a true multi-species grassland could offer the potential to manage marginal land in Wales for both production and general biodiversity.

The trace elements project looks to implement advanced nutritional management in the Welsh sheep industry. Twelve farmers from across North Wales along with Wern Vets, Ruthin are investigating how taking live liver biopsies and blood samples together can provide a more accurate analysis of the trace element status of the ewes. As optimum nutrition underpins efficient livestock production, the results of the project will be of significant interest to sheep farmers.

Two dairy farmers in the Bridgend area are involved in the night milk project which is investigating levels of melatonin, a hormone contained in milk that promotes sleep. The hormone is produced at higher levels by the cow during darkness. Because of this, the farmers are separating and sampling the milk gathered at night in this project to see if it contains enough melatonin to be able to sell it as ‘night milk’.

“Farmers often think that innovation must be something ‘technical’ or complicated but in fact it is often the simplest concepts that are the most successful. It could be a technique or technology that’s proven in one sector, or in other parts on the world, but could be of benefit in another sector” says Owain Rowlands, EIP Wales officer.

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