Farmers in NI who participate in discussion groups have better financial margins than non-members, according to the results of a new study.

The gross margins of dairy and sheep farmers who are members of Business Development Groups (BDG) were compared to farmers who are not part of the scheme.

Researchers found dairy BDG participants had gross margins that were on average £109/cow higher than non-members. In the sheep sector, the difference was £17/ewe.

Over 3,000 farmers participate in the BDG scheme which allows members of sector specific groups to attend up to eight on-farm meetings each year.

The new study, which was published in the scientific journal Agriculture, acknowledges that BDG participants were more likely to be already focused on improving management practices before joining the scheme.