Farmers in the Isle of Man will be offered expert advice to help stay up to date with the latest innovations, techniques and technology through a programme launched on Tuesday.
The Knowledge Exchange Programme (KEP) is a key part of the Government’s Agricultural Strategy which aims to enable active farmers to deliver a reliable and profitable food chain, while enhancing the Island’s natural environment.
The four-year programme will be delivered by one the industry’s leading agricultural and environmental consultants, ADAS, who will provide face-to-face support on farming and environmental matters, ranging from animal nutrition to carbon auditing.
It is an integral part of the Agri-Environment Scheme which changed how active farmers are supported this year, by reducing fixed, flat rate payments and introducing targeted funding which encouraged actions that boost biodiversity and mitigate climate change.
Clare Barber MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, launched the KEP at the Victory café – where its key objectives were outlined to farmers, before they were invited to apply to be one of the first demonstration farms in January.
Minister Barber, said: “This programme is an integral part of our Agri-Environment Scheme, and we hope it will empower active farmers to learn new skills and enable innovation to sustain a vibrant agricultural industry, while enhancing our cherished Biosphere. We also hope this programme can encourage more young people into farming.”
As around 75% of the Island’s 330 farms specialise in cattle and sheep, it is anticipated that the first farms will be chosen from this sector.
James Dunn from ADAS, said: “We are excited to get started. Initially we will work with two farms to identify areas for improvement – ranging from increasing productivity from forage and profitability, to carbon auditing and emerging technologies. We will empower the farmers by working with them to set sustainable physical performance targets which will help them to improve the viability of their businesses.”
Throughout the programme farmers will be brought back together to share knowledge got the benefit of the industry.