A French cohort of 15 dairy farmers and delegates of the Council of Finistère and Trévarez Research Station were welcomed last Tuesday at Duchy College’s Future Farm, marking a new step in exchanging sustainable dairy farming practices across the Channel.

The group explored the pioneering research facility and visited three farms representing the range of successful dairy production systems found in Cornwall. 

 The visitors were accompanied by a team from the Rural Business School, part of the Cornwall College group (TCCG), along with a group from Cornwall Council led by Alice Walpole, Assistant Economic Growth Officer.

 Gaïd Carval, Finistère/Cornwall cooperation officer and part of the delegation from France commented: “We are happy to be working with Duchy College on this exciting project. By sharing our expertise and working together, we hope to make a real difference in giving new solutions to dairy farmers to reduce their carbon footprint.” 

 The visit stems from a partnership established last year through the ABCD project (Agriculture Bas Carbone Dairy) project, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Working with Cornwall Council, local farmers, the council of Finistère and Trévarez Research Station in Brittany, France, and the research team at Duchy College’s Future Farm are looking at ways of reducing the carbon footprint of dairy farming in Cornwall and across the Channel.

The tour around the Future Farm left some positive impressions with guests complementing the facility and practices:

“The visits are very interesting, it’s great to have the opportunity to discover completely different dairy systems from what we have back home, it opens our minds!” said Stéphane Hourmant, dairy farmer in Lannédern in Finistère.

Pierre Bernard, another French guest and dairy farmer also added: “We felt a real will to produce milk sustainably as well as the importance of transmuting practices “.  

 Apart from the research work focusing around reducing methane produced by dairy cattle, the other aspects of the project include working with the four main milk processors in Cornwall and their suppliers as a way to inform the development of a knowledge transfer programme to further assist Cornish dairy farmers.

A key feature in this partnership is the sharing of best practice farmer to farmer through visits by milk producers from both countries, making this exchange benefit both the dairy ecosystem as well as the training of new professionals. 

It’s always important to involve the farmers as they are the sharp end of agriculture.  

What makes this project even more important is that our students at Duchy College will not only have access to the research – they will be placed at the heart of it. This means we are creating a legacy that will see cutting-edge research put into practice for generations to come, helping to make farming more sustainable for the futuresaid Paul Ward, Farm Research Manager at Duchy College’s Rural Business School. 

 To capitalise on the wealth of knowledge across the two countries, a reciprocal visit for the British group is planned for this autumn.