Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Celebrating REDP’s impact on farming and policy

TResearch Summer 2023

Teagasc’s Rural Economy and Development Programme (REDP) strives to make an impact on the agri-food sector by bringing together several streams of work at different disciplinary, strategic and temporal scales. As part of its latest peer review process, the REDP team selected six case studies that realised the programme’s objectives.

Over the past 50 years, the diverse range of research and knowledge transfer work from Teagasc’s Rural Economy and Development Programme (REDP) has contributed to worthwhile outcomes for farmers, enterprises and policymakers.
Six projects selected by the team as part of a peer review highlight how the ongoing and evolving relationships and interactions between REDP and its networks have the potential to achieve greater impact on the sector.

Each case study contributed to change along all three impact pathways: technology development and adoption; capacity development; and policy influence. The technology development and adoption pathway is perhaps the most familiar to most researchers. In the capacity building pathway, the process of carrying out research helps builds the capacity of actors in the agri-food system to innovate. For the policy influencing pathway, researchers generate insight and evidence that informs policy and contributes to policy change.

This suggests that the programme is not only developing and transferring research and technologies, but is also contributing to the ways in which this knowledge is made accessible and usable by end users. These pathways, outlined in Teagasc’s Statement of Strategy, Teagasc Together, depict an overarching model of how Teagasc contributes to developmental impact in the agri-food sector.

CASE STUDY 1: Enhanced monitoring and evaluation of Irish agricultural performance

TResearch Summer 2023

The National Farm Survey (NFS) was established in 1973 as a tool to assist in monitoring the economic performance of Irish farms and evaluating the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy in Ireland. It has developed in response to the expectations of society, policymakers and other stakeholders to now also assist in the monitoring and evaluation of social and environmental sustainability aspects of Irish farms.

The evolution of the NFS correctly anticipated a need to redefine farm data collection, monitoring and evaluation at EU level.

Key beneficiaries have been policymakers in Ireland, farmer representative organisations and civil society groups. Ireland is now one of the leaders among EU Member States in terms of the measurement of agricultural sustainability.

Teagasc researchers: Cathal Buckley, Emma Dillon, Trevor Donnellan, Kevin Hanrahan, John Lennon, and Brian Moran

CASE STUDY 2: FAPRI-Ireland models: support for evidence-based policymaking

TResearch Summer 2023

From the early 1990s, the development of medium-term economic modelling and policy analysis capacity has strengthened evidence-based policymaking for the agri-food sector. Most directly, this capacity services the needs of policymakers in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) and Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

This modelling capacity also informs other stakeholders, such as farmer unions (Irish Farmers’ Association, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association, Macra na Feirme), food industry representative bodies (lobby and business representative group Ibec, Dairy Industry Ireland, Meat Industry Ireland, Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) and civil society generally. Medium-term projections developed using the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI)- Ireland model have informed the development of successive rounds of agri-food sector policy processes: Agri-Vision 2015, Food Harvest 2020, Food Wise 2025 and Food Vision 2030.

Teagasc researchers: Trevor Donnellan, Kevin Hanrahan, and Fiona Thorne

CASE STUDY 3: Teagasc succession and inheritance Knowledge Transfer programme

TResearch Summer 2023

Since around 2012, the Farm Management Knowledge Transfer (KT) Specialist department has been instrumental in equipping Teagasc KT advisors with the information and skills to allow them to be as effective as possible in facilitating conversations around succession. The department has co-ordinated annual information campaigns and ‘Transferring the Family Farm’ clinics for the farming community, which establish a regular contact point with over 1,200 farm family members considering succession.

Close collaboration with other local agencies, research projects, the development of resources for farm families and advisors, and the development and promotion of succession partnerships assist in generational renewal built capacity in the sector. The number of regular and specific purpose Succession Farm Partnerships registered annually continues to grow.

Teagasc researchers: Kevin Connolly, Anne Kinsella, Gordon Peppard, and James McDonnell

CASE STUDY 4: Responsive and inclusive digital transformations on farms

TResearch Summer 2023

Since 2017, Irish farm advisors and farmers are using responsively and responsibly researched and designed digital technologies and practices and are being supported to do so by technology development, capacity building and policy changes. These digital transformations arise from state-of-the-art REDP research, which contribute to multi-actor, inter-disciplinary research projects and programmes aimed at technology development and adoption.

Capacity is developed among a range of value chain and Agricultural Knowledge & Innovation Systems actors. One example is the development and use of digital extension toolboxes within the advisory service, focusing on grassland management, the prevention and management of Johne’s disease; anti-microbial and anthelmintic use; farm safety; and time management. The research is also informing policy, particularly related to data governance and digitalisation of the Common Agricultural Policy, with one example being the AgriSnap App for farmers.

Teagasc researchers: Áine Regan, Áine Macken-Walsh, John Hyland, Réamonn Fealy, and Maeve Henchion

CASE STUDY 5: Contribution to informing and assessing national policies on land use and soils

TResearch Summer 2023

Since 1998, the spatial analysis unit within REDP has developed a data and analysis infrastructure to inform the assessment of progress towards national environmental policy goals. The first national digital maps of soils, parent materials and habitats were produced.

National policies on land use and soils were informed and assessed thanks to the unit maintaining a strong scientific and technical track record in identifying knowledge and data gaps in the agri-environment area, and the development of industry-standard datasets to fill them. A National Land Cover and Land Use mapping programme has been created, and new Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) regulations under Common Agricultural Policy have been developed.

The unit also informed and influenced draft EC regulations and subsequently went on to develop and produce the spatial database of environmental conditions on which the new ANC payments to 85,000 Irish farmers are based.

Teagasc researchers: Stuart Green, Reamonn Fealy, David Meredith, and Jesko Zimmerman

CASE STUDY 6: Contribution of Teagasc Rural Development to rural sustainability

TResearch Summer 2023

From the late 2000s, in response to a reduction in staff, the loss of specific expertise and challenges from new policies, the Rural Development Department began to rethink how it engaged with farm families and rural dwellers. It did this in three primary ways: leveraging the reach of Teagasc communication channels (videos, webinars, webpages, factsheets, Options workshops and other events) to farm families to help them build capacity to develop appropriate diversification strategies; leveraging the support and services of rural agencies targeting farm families and rural dwellers; and high-level engagement in policy development.

The Department now facilitates the dissemination of information from Teagasc and from a wide range of rural actors to reach a client base of 45,000 farms on an ongoing basis.

Teagasc researchers: Mary Ryan, Fintan Phelan, Wendy Conlon, Elaine Leavy, Kevin Connolly, Barry Caslin, Vanessa Keane, Joe Kelleher, Martin Bourke, and Sean Keane


Kevin Heanue, Senior Evaluation Officer, Teagasc, Athenry & Oak Park.

Genowefa Blundo-Canto, Scientist and impact assessment specialist, CIRAD, Montpellier, France.

Kevin Hanrahan, Head of Rural Economy & Development Programme, Teagasc, Athenry. 

Image credits: PeopleImages/istockphoto.com; peter/stock.adobe.com; SolStock/istockphoto.com; SolStock/istockphoto.com; Ground Picture/shutterstock.com; Valua Vitaly/stock.adobe.com; SolStock/istockphoto.com.