On Wednesday 29 March 2017, Meritxell Serret, Councillor of the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food of the Government of Catalonia, together with other authorities from the Provincial Council of Girona and IRTA, opened the new Monells Cattle Farm (EVAM) at IRTA in Monells (Girona).
EVAM is a tool to serve the interests of the industry and Catalan society, a platform for research, experimentation and transfer, which is unique in both Catalonia and southern Europe. This farm combines knowledge of climatology, agronomy, plant production, water and excrement management, animal handling, genetic and reproductive improvement, and animal well-being and health with a cross-disciplinary vision that is circular and sustainable, in order to improve competitiveness and sustainability throughout the milk industry and to satisfy the needs of the consumers of our country.
EVAM’s aim is for the milk industry to benefit from the application of new tools for genetic improvements and health, new food models and the handling of animals, so as to improve productive efficiency and reduce environmental impact. It will also work with the industry to develop new technologies which help to obtain and market dairy products distinguished by quality, proximity and high added value. The industry can be even more efficient and more competitive, and IRTA’s Monells Cattle Farm wants to be a tool to contribute to this.
EVAM’s project formally began half way through 2014, with the signing of a collaboration agreement between the Provincial Council of Girona and IRTA for the transfer of the management of the Agroramadera Camps i Armet farm at Monells and the building of the new farm.
The project has involved an investment of 2.4 million euros in buildings and equipment, to which the Provincial Council of Girona, the regional ERDF, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and IRTA have contributed equally.
Monells Cattle Farm: an integrating and sustainable project
EVAM wants to consolidate progressively as a benchmark centre for research, experimentation and awareness of milk production, transformation and consumption in Catalonia, harnessing the human capabilities, equipment, laboratories and the pilot plant that IRTA has at other facilities in the centre of Monells and at the Experimental Field Station of Mas Badia. The farm currently has 60 cows, but in the future it will take in up to 120.
The aim is to meet three parallel challenges:
- Research directed at generating new knowledge, to help solve technological and innovation challenges in the industry.
- The transfer of results, to contribute to improving the competitiveness of the industry, seeking to increase efficiency in the production, health and well-being of the animals, as well as in the quality and differential and added value of dairy products and derivatives.
- Informing the public about the production process of milk and its treatment up to its consumption, by implementing proactive informative and promotional actions.
EVAM is based on a concept of comprehensive research, as it seeks to integrate all the elements that influence milk production, from fodder production to the management of excrement, to informing consumers and the general public.
The station was created based on a commitment between the institutions and the producing industry, with a vision that is:
- Transversal and interdisciplinary, enabling an integrated and global analysis of the relationships between the climate, water, crops, fodder, the animals and their products.
- Circular: from the land to the land, by means of a rational use of water, efficient food production, respectful handling of the animals and good management of their excrement.
- Cyclical: maximising all resources (natural and human) in a rational way, ensuring the continuity of the activity while reducing external dependencies.
- Comprehensive: from the farmer to the consumer, and vice versa. In order to guarantee the economic, social and environmental sustainability of livestock farmers in a humanised agricultural environment which is accepted by the public.
The services of Monells Cattle Farm will help the entire industry to:
- Evaluate, test and apply new tools, strategies, techniques and products, to improve the efficiency and sustainability of farms.
- Publicise new improvements in field management, the handling of animals and their excrement, and also the latest technologies applied to obtaining dairy products.
- Have a meeting point and dialogue with different stakeholders, to promote research, development and transfer projects from the farmer to the consumer.
- Train new livestock farmers and entrepreneurs in the milk industry in the technical aspects of agricultural productions and the milk production process.
- Explain to society the key elements of milk production: the work in the fields and the careful handling of the animals and their contribution to the health of consumers and the achievement of a humanised rural environment with a conciliatory, constructive spirit and two-way, transparent dialogue.
Source: New Food