Duchy’s Future Farm dairy celebrates official launch

A state-of-the-art centre for research and innovation in sustainable dairy production has finally had its official launch after months of delays due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Future Farm dairy at Duchy College, in Stoke Climsland, Cornwall, welcomed guests and stakeholders from across the country on Friday 6 May.

The £4m research centre, which first opened in November 2020, is making advancements in improving the efficiency, welfare and technology in the dairy farming sector.

See also: WIYLS goes inside Duchy College’s £3.6m dairy unit

Capable of housing up to 220 milking cows and using cutting-edge technology, Future Farm can provide information to improve the health of the livestock and the quality of their produce, and the health of the farm business and the environment. 

Researchers are using scientific techniques to carry out research into ways to lower the sector’s carbon footprint, reduce its effect on the environment, and improve animal health and welfare.

Lyndsay Chapman, chief executive at the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (Ciel) and keynote speaker at the event, said: “Future Farm is part of Ciel’s extensive national research alliance. 

“With the South West such an important and renowned region for British dairying, it’s fabulous that our joint vision to have a dairy research facility at Duchy is now a reality.”

Ms Chapman highlighted Ciel’s recent report Net Zero and Livestock: How farmers can reduce emissions, an evidence-based summary setting out the options for farmers to mitigate their farm emissions.

Many of the research themes, principles and techniques that are now available at the Future Farm dairy have been pioneered by the world-renowned Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke Farm Platform, also part of the Ciel research alliance. 

Knowledge exchange

Alongside research, Future Farm provides a facility for knowledge exchange with the industry, including farmers, their suppliers and buyers. It also delivers training and education for students at Duchy College Stoke Climsland and Bicton College, both part of the Cornwall College Group.

Robin Jackson, director of the Rural Business School at Duchy College, said: “Future Farm is a platform for research, teaching and knowledge transfer. It’s something we build upon and, at its heart, it’s a precision dairy. In the building, we can evaluate different technologies and management regimes.

“So, we can look at inputs, we can look at improving the health and welfare of the livestock, and we can look at outputs: the milk and also the slurry waste. This slurry can have a significant value as a fertiliser and, potentially, as a substrate for fuel production.”