Agricultural research has been undertaken at the Hillsborough site (formerly the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland) since 1927. In 2006 Hillsborough became part of the newly formed Agri-food and Biosciences Institute, a Non Departmental Public Body. The farm encompasses a site of approximately 360 ha, of which approximately half is forest and half is grassland. More recently, a small area has been given to growing biomass crops. The main livestock enterprises on the farm are dairy, beef, sheep and pigs. The core research theme is sustainable livestock systems.
The dairy unit comprises a 320 cow dairy herd and approximately 180 young stock. Key dairy research areas include reducing the environmental footprint of dairy systems, improving dairy cow nutrition both during the winter and during the grazing season, evaluating different cow genotypes and reducing the carbon-footprint of dairy systems.