VistaMilk is a national dairy research project funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM). It involves collaboration between national bodies such as Teagasc, ICBF and Tyndall & many of the country’s universities; including UCD, SETU & UCC. Each partner organisation have VistaMilk representatives who meet periodically as part of working groups to help achieve the project’s overall goals and vision.

Text outlining VistaMilk's vision to innovate across the dairy supply chain
Fig 1: VistaMilk’s Vision​

ICBF's Involvement

An illustration showing the use of data throughout the VistaMilk project
Fig 2: VistaMilk’s Research Areas​

As data facilitator, ICBF have been responsible for providing data solutions for VistaMilk projects and researchers. As can be seen in the above graphic, data is intrinsic to everything related to the project so it is important to take all kinds of data security, data governance, etc. into account. As part of our role, we have been integrating existing databases as well as newer datasets that have arisen directly as a result of VistaMilk innovations using the state-of-the-art technical infrastructure available to us. Protecting our farmers’ data is important too; we take every precaution to ensure that any data shared to VistaMilk from our database is anonymised, and that our farmers have given permission for their data to be used.

VistaMilk Research Portal

The Research Portal has been developed in-house as a means of assisting researchers in making their data-sets available to other project members. Data can be uploaded, shared and downloaded by project members with just a few clicks. We explore the Portal in more detail here and detail the security in place to ensure that the data is handled in a safe & secure manner.

3 Thematic Areas for Research

All of VistaMilk’s research activity can be classified under one of the following areas:

  1. Pasture – higher quality grass/herbage results in improved milk quality from our national grazing herd. Some researchers have been utilising drone data, for example, to determine how grass make-up from a geographical sense can impact on milk quality.
  2. Cow – profit through science. Using more informed breeding decisions with scientific backing results in better milk volumes, leading to increased earnings on the farm. 
  3. Food – from cheese to yogurts, VistaMilk aims to improve the quality of dairy products and research is ongoing into the effect of food additives on the human gut.
An image illustrating VistaMilk's three areas of interest with a grass icon, a cow icon and a milk tank icon
Fig 3. VistaMilk’s 3 Research Domains​

Public Engagement

Education and Public Engagement play a key role in both informing the general public about current VistaMilk activities, and also to attract up-and-coming students to the agri-tech industry. This is achieved through staff involvement at seminars, blog posts (such as this one), radio & television interviews, etc. It also serves as a means of improving VistaMilk staff’s communication skills through presenting their research, findings, etc.

Continued Involvement

ICBF continue their involvement in VistaMilk into 2024 and beyond. We’re excited to be part of such an exciting initiative and look forward to collaborating with the other partners in delivering world-leading research to improve the Irish dairy industry. Further information about VistaMilk can be found here.