AIB has announced its financial partnership with the Farm Zero C project, which is based in Shinagh, outside Bandon in west Cork.

Farm Zero C is a joint project of Carbery Group and Biorbic, Ireland's national bioeconomy research centre, with the aim to create an economically viable climate-neutral model for Irish dairy farming.

AIB will provide financial support towards the research, promotion and public advocacy of the work under way at Shinagh.

AIB CEO Colin Hunt said that the necessary transition to a low-carbon economy requires leadership, partnership and innovation.

Tangible outputs

"The success and output of Farm Zero C presents tangible and important outputs for every aspect of our food production system across the farming community.

"It feeds into our food-exporting economy and Ireland’s reputation as a sustainable food producing nation. The ongoing work at Farm Zero C has global relevance and we are delighted to partner with all stakeholders on this important work," he said.

The Farm Zero C project takes a holistic approach, combining a range of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the productivity and resilience of the farm.

Scientific expertise

Carbery CEO Jason Hawkins said: "We are excited to have AIB on board with us on this project. We have a great partnership with Biorbic and strong scientific expertise on the project.

"The AIB contribution will allow us to make further progress and, most importantly, to communicate the work under way and the potential benefit to a wide range of stakeholders, including, most importantly, farmers and the agri sector."

World first

The Farm Zero C project brings together a group of research and industry experts in a world-first attempt to come up with a farm-level solution for a global problem.

The work is targeting soil and grassland, animal diet and breeding, biodiversity, life cycle analysis and renewable energy.

It is also considering business models and planning to ensure all proposed interventions are commercially viable and looking at the potential for carbon trading to be integrated within a low-emissions farm model.

The project has received €2m funding from Science Foundation Ireland under the Zero Emissions Challenge.

Earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved funding of €3m to develop an anaerobic digester and grass biorefinery on the site.

Shinagh Farm, owned by the four west Cork co-ops, milks 250 cows on a 250-acre platform and will allow the project team to prove that a new sustainable business model for farming is possible.