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Research Impact Highlights - General

Working smarter not harder

Marion Beecher, Conor Hogan and Bernadette O’Brien

The reduced availability of farm workers combined with farmers placing greater emphasis on achieving a good work-life balance has led to an increased focus on work organisation and efficiency. A case study conducted with four farmers highlighted that a 117-cow dairy herd can be managed with less than 3,000 hours of labour input per year (equal to 54 hours per week). This is fewer than the 3,015 hours per year previously reported for labour efficient farms with a herd size of less than 150 cows. 

55 Research has indicated that farmers consider anything less than 55 hours a week to be an acceptable weekly labour input.

For the most labour intensive tasks, such as milking, calf and cow care and grassland management, 12 key work practices and technologies have been identified to improve efficiency. Once the efficiency is optimised through the relevant facilities, practices and technology, farmers can reduce their own contribution further by hiring staff or contractors. For every additional efficient work practice or technology implemented, the labour efficiency has the potential to be improved by 0.60 hours per cow.

The farmers profiled in the case study contributed 77% of labour input, which equalled 47 hours a week. The farms were still able to meet all of their key targets for a spring calving herd while this was achieved, highlighting the importance of minimising labour requirements through efficient work practices and/or technology. 

Correspondence: marion.beecher@teagasc.ie
Other contributors: University College Dublin.
Funding: Teagasc grant-in-aid; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme. 

A snapshot of Irish farms

Ursula Kenny and Áine Regan

As part of the EU NIVA project, technology developers were tasked with developing an app to provide farmers with the option of uploading geotagged images of land parcels. The goal was to make claim processes more efficient and reduce the need for in-person farm inspection visits.

With the help of social scientists, a design thinking (human-centred) approach was used to develop the app for use on smart devices. This novel approach involved target users, such as farmers, farm advisors and inspectors, working alongside research scientists, app developers and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) staff on the app development process. In using this approach, multiple stakeholders were supported to express and evaluate the benefits and challenges they associated with the development and final design of a new geotag photo app, and contribute their solutions for a more effective and user-friendly end product.

400+ Over 400 farmers and advisors used AgriSnap to submit geotagged photographs to support their scheme application or resolve queries.

From this work, the AgriSnap app has been developed. AgriSnap was introduced by DAFM for use in the Results-based Environment Agri Pilot Programme (REAP) and Checks by Monitoring (CbM) for the Protein Aid Scheme in 2021. It will facilitate a faster turnaround of queries by DAFM, thereby minimising payment delays.

Correspondence: aine.regan@teagasc.ie
Other contributors: Eoin Dooley and Sinead Mulcahy (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) and Dave Hearne and Christine O’Meara (Walton Institute Waterford Institute of Technology).
Funding: European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.

Irish Coronavirus Sequencing Consortium

Paul Cotter, John Kenny and Fiona Crispie

The Irish Coronavirus Sequencing Consortium was formed as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s rapid response call to the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020. Led by Teagasc’s Paul Cotter, Fiona Crispie and John Kenny, the consortium benefits from the established DNA sequencing and bioinformatics expertise at Teagasc, as well as at other Irish organisations.

The consortium sequenced the RNA genome sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from patient samples. The resulting data was made publicly available to national and international researchers, contributing to the global surveillance of the spread of the virus. The data resulting from this project was also used by the National Virus Reference Laboratory in its response to emerging variants of the virus, such as the Alpha variant in December 2020 and the Delta variant in July 2021.

Correspondence: paul.cotter@teagasc.ie
Other contributors: University College Cork, Cork University Hospital, The National Virus Reference Laboratory, University College Dublin, Beaumont Hospital, Genomics Medicine Ireland, Trinity College Dublin/St James’s Hospital, University of Limerick (UL)/University Hospital Limerick, National University of Ireland, Galway, Maynooth University, Helixworks and GMI.


Impact of Teagasc research publications

Compiled by: Máire Caffrey, Teagasc Head Librarian

Teagasc needs to evaluate research outputs to justify investment, guide decisions on the direction of future research and understand how our performance compares to similar organisations. Funding bodies require data to show return on investment, and researchers like to know how their peers rate their outputs.

Teagasc monitors its research impact in various ways. We track the number of articles in scientific journals authored by Teagasc researchers, as well as counting citations to those articles by other scientific articles. There are a number of resources available providing these citation counts and other metrics. Teagasc uses online subscription-based indexing service Scopus, and its accompanying research evaluation tool SciVal. Scopus enables exploration of the scientific literature, as well as counting citations to each indexed article. SciVal is a research evaluation tool that allows an organisation to analyse institutional productivity and benchmark outputs.

Citation counts are merely a snapshot in time, as citations are constantly accumulating. The metrics below were downloaded from SciVal and Scopus on 15 March 2021. Publication and citation patterns vary considerably across subject areas. Therefore, when using publication counts or citation-based metrics, comparisons within subject categories are the most meaningful. To place our performance in a national context, we can compare Teagasc’s performance with that of the eight Irish universities, within three relevant subject categories: the broad category of A – Agricultural & Biological Sciences, and two narrower categories B – Agronomy & Crop Science and C – Food Science.

Considering articles published in the period 2015 to 2020 and indexed in Scopus, we can make the following comparisons:

  • Within category A – Agricultural & Biological Sciences: Teagasc consistently published the second highest number of articles in this category (Figure 1), and Teagasc had the second-highest overall citation count
  • Within category B – Agronomy & Crop Science: Teagasc consistently produced the highest number of publications in this category (Figure 2), and Teagasc had the highest overall number of citations
  • Within category C – Food Science: Teagasc consistently produced the highest number of publications in this category (Figure 3), and Teagasc had the second-highest overall citation count.

Of course, all bibliometric analysis must be placed in context and the impact of our research must be evaluated in a variety of other ways in order to give the full picture.