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Farm Innovation Visits (FIVs)

Farm Innovation Visits (FIVs)

Farm Innovation Visits (FIVs), provide farmers with the opportunity to visit farm businesses in other parts of the UK or Europe to learn about new innovations. Each visit has a specific theme and visits are organised and led by a CAFRE Adviser or Technologist.

What is a Farm Innovation Visit?

A Farm Innovation Visit is a study tour by a group of farmers or growers from Northern Ireland to a location outside Northern Ireland. The size of the group is usually between 15 and 20 people. The group aims to study a particular innovation in farming that is being used in other countries but not yet here. The groups are led by CAFRE staff who have expertise in the subject area.

Who is eligible to go on a Farm Innovation Visit?

To be eligible for a FIV study tour you need to be over 18 years of age, own or work in a farm business and not be in full-time education. In addition, applicants must be a member of a group which includes farmers and/or growers. Depending on the focus of the visit you may need to meet additional criteria, for example, you may need to have had your farm financially benchmarked or have a minimum size of enterprise.

The aim is for each FIV member to learn about the innovation for themselves and then pass that knowledge on to members of their group back home.

How long does a Farm Innovation Visit last?

The tours which have taken place already have lasted two or three days, however longer trips are possible. Typically the group visits a number of farms and perhaps research centres where the innovation of interest has been implemented. In addition there is often input from people who have world class specialist knowledge of the subject area.

Towards the end of the study tour there is a wrap-up session. This helps the members to draw all the learning together and reach a conclusion about how the new innovation could be workable on the home farm.

Which countries can be visited?

Visits are supported to any country in the Europe Union including Great Britain.

To date, eight visits have taken place to locations including: Scotland, England, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

What are the financial arrangements for a Farm Innovation Visit?

The main costs of the FIV are met through the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme which is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The cost of all travel outside Northern Ireland is covered, as is accommodation and meals. The scheme will also cover the cost of technical experts and translators in the country being visited.

The participants are expected to cover the cost of any farm relief while they are away, their travel within Northern Ireland and also their travel insurance.

What is expected from the group members when they return?

Within six months of returning home participants are expected to share what they have learnt with a group of their peers; often this will be the members of their Business Development Group.

What has been the experience so far?

The first FIV was a group of pig producers who went to Denmark to study the prevention and control of a pig disease, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). Feedback from the group was very positive with one member commenting ‘The best trip I have been on, lots of great information about PRRS and livestock husbandry’

A second FIV was ‘Innovations in suckler beef finishing systems’ when a group went to Yorkshire to study how cattle were finished and marketed on a large feedlot with the suckler producers retaining ownership. One member commented that ‘The trip was first class and very informative.”

Are there any FIVs being planned?

Over the life of the Scheme around 100 visits will take place. These will include all the sectors in the local industry including dairying, beef and sheep production, arable farming, production horticulture, pigs and poultry production as well as environmental issues that impact farming.

Plans for future Farm Innovation Visits are postponed due to Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Once it is safe to travel again CAFRE will resume plans for further trips.