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Teagasc on RTÉ Brainstorm

RTÉ Brainstorm is a unique partnership between RTÉ, University College Cork, NUI Galway, University of Limerick, DCU, Technological University Dublin, Maynooth University, the Irish Research Council and Teagasc.

RTÉ Brainstorm is where the academic and research community will contribute to public debate, reflect on what’s happening in the world around us and communicate fresh thinking on a broad range of issues.

Read articles from Teagasc researchers that have featured below.

From costs to the weather, how stressed out are farmers?

The demands of modern farming can place substantial stress upon farmers and farm workers and adversely affect their wellbeing. Indeed, the challenging nature of farm work and a culture that generally emphasises tenacity, self-reliance and resilience results in many farmers prioritising farm productivity over self-care. In addition, current challenges around rising costs are a particular cause of concern for farmers. Farmers and farm workers have been found to experience high levels of stress and relatively low levels of wellbeing, two key indicators of occupational social sustainability. Read the full article here

By Mary BrennanEmma Dillon and David MeredithTeagasc and Thia HennessyUCC

Mary Brennan is a Teagasc Walsh Scholar, at the Rural Economy Development Programme at Teagasc and the Department of Food Business and Development at Cork University Business School in UCCDr Emma Dillon is an Economist and Senior Research Officer with the National Farm Survey team at TeagascDr David Meredith is a Senior Research Officer at the Rural Economy Development Programme at Teagasc. He is a former Irish Research Council awardee. Prof Thia Hennessy is Head of School, Head of the Department of Food Business and Development and Chair of Agri-Food Economics at at Cork University Business School in UCC.

How we unearthed a medieval town in Co Kilkenny

As part of his Teagasc Walsh Scholarship, Daniel O’Mahony is looking to advance our understanding of monuments on agricultural land using new technologies. Using LIDAR and magnetic gradiometry, O'Mahony was able to retrace the old structures of Newtown without having to take a spade to the site. Doing this unearthed long lost features such as ridge and furrow, two extended mill complexes, possible land drainage, domestic dwellings and animal enclosures. Read the full article here

By Daniel O'Mahony and Jesko ZimmermannTeagasc

Daniel O'Mahony is a Teagasc Walsh Scholar at the UCD School of ArchaeologyDr Jesko Zimmermann is a Data Technologist in the Agrifood Business and Spatial Analysis Department at Teagasc.

What maps tell us about how we live, work and travel

For several years, we have been visualising complex patterns in geographic data and publishing them as online maps as part of our monthly map series. We take a closer look at the patterns around where we live and where we go to work. Whether you live to work or work to live, it all happens within a geographic space. So what do these spaces look like? What patterns are hidden in the data? What can they tell us about how we live/work now and may live/work in the future? Read the full article here

By Jesko ZimmermannDavid Meredith and Rob O'HaraTeagasc

Dr Jesko Zimmermann is a Data Technologist in the Agrifood Business and Spatial Analysis Department at TeagascDr David Meredith is a Senior Research Officer at the Rural Economy & Development Programme at TeagascDr Rob O'Hara is a Research Officer with Teagasc and Terrain-AI.


How to eat and exercise your way to healthy ageing

Many of us may first think about healthy ageing the day we blow out 65 birthday candles and are officially classified as an "older adult". Yet age-related changes in our bodies start many years before that. One of these changes starts around our forties when we start to lose about 1% of our muscle mass and 2 to 3% of our strength each year. Read the full article here or listen to it as a podcast here

By Caoileann Murphy and Sinéad McCarthy, Teagasc

Dr Caoileann Murphy is a Registered Dietitian and a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow working in the area of nutrition and healthy ageing at the Teagasc Food Research CentreDr Sinéad McCarthy, is a Public Health Nutritionist with a research focus on consumer behaviour in relation to food, health and sustainability at the Teagasc Food Research Centre.

How can we enjoy a tasty, fatty meal without weight gain?

Researchers have been looking at how whey proteins could be the answer to this particular pickle. Foods rich in dietary fat are known to cause weight gain if consumed excessively, and yet we still eat them because they are tasty and are in abundant supply. Read the full article here or listen to it as a podcast here

By Oleksandr Nychyk, Wiley BartonPaul D. Cotter and Kanishka N. Nilaweera

Dr. Oleksandr Nychyk is a former SFI-funded post-doctoral researcher in Teagasc and is now a Scientific Analyst at Eurofins/Janssen Biologics. Dr. Wiley Barton is a post-doctoral researcher with the VistaMilk SFI Research Centre at Teagasc. Prof Paul Cotter is the Head of Food Biosciences at Teagasc and a Principal Investigator with the Irish Research Centre, APC Microbiome Ireland, VistaMilk and Food for Health Ireland. Dr. Kanishka Nilaweera is a Senior Research Scientist and Funded Investigator in the VistaMilk Research Centre at Teagasc.

Why farm soils cause greenhouse gas emissions - and how to fix it

A large proportion of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions come from the loss of soil nutrients via applied fertilisers and other chemicals. Soil may not be the most 'attention grabbing’ headline, but it is definitely an important one. Read the full article here

By Rosie O’Neill

Rosie is a Teagasc Walsh Scholar based at the Teagasc Environmental Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford. She is assessing the impact of management factors on soil denitrifying communities and nitrogen emissions.

Who wants an insect energy bar or bug burger for lunch?

Just as no-one anticipated demand for soy-based sausages and seaweed burgers, there's another future food revolution swarming to our shops. Insects are high in protein and have rich amino and fatty acid profiles. Read the full article here

By Laura Healy

Laura is a Teagasc Walsh Scholar. Her project title is value addition to aqua culture seaweeds for novel functional food development.

Can we change our behaviour to prevent superbugs?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when we overuse or misuse antibiotics in animal health as well as human health. Antibiotic resistance makes essential antibiotics no longer effective. The invisible threat of antibiotic resistance is a health issue that urgently needs addressing by us all, from farmers to consumers. Read the full article here

By Alison Burrell and Áine Regan

Alison Burrell is a chartered health psychologist and post-doctoral researcher with Teagasc. Dr Áine Regan is a Research Officer (Social & Behavioural Science) with Teagasc.

What are Irish farmers' views on climate change?

Communities in the Atlantic area face challenges from changing temperatures and rainfall patterns, sea level rises and the impact of extreme climate events (such as storms, flooding and droughts) that could interrupt agricultural activity. Read the full article here

By Edel Doherty, NUI Galway; Sinead Mellett, Athlone Institute of Technology; Denis O'Hora, NUI Galway and Mary Ryan, Teagasc

Mary is a researcher based at the Teagasc, Rural Economy & Development Centre, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway

The secrets hidden in Irish townland names

The massive importance of agriculture in Ireland can be seen in how placenames recall past farming practices. These placenames are an invaluable inheritance that give us a distant perspective on how our ancestors used parts of their landscape. Read the full article here

By Jesko Zimmermann and Rob O'Hara

Jesko is a Data Technologist and Rob is a Postdoctoral Researcher, both work in the Agrifood Business and Spatial Analysis Department at Teagasc.

Why do leaves change colour at this time of year?

It's all down to a bunch of chemicals, a process called senescence and the lifecycle of a tree. Leaf senescence is when the normal green leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs take on shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown in the autumn. Read the full article here

By John Casey

John is a Forestry Development Officer with Teagasc. He has a broad technical knowledge of the Irish forest industry. With a specific interest in forestry-related financial analysis and wildfire prevention and controlled burning.

How sustainable is the food we eat in Ireland?

Are you Culturally Sustainable, Nutritionally Sustainable or Unsustainable when it comes to your diet? Is it possible to consume a diet where we can achieve both healthy eating guidelines and have minimal environmental impacts? Find out in the full article here

By Sinéad McCarthy

Sinéad is a Research Officer at Teagasc. She has been involved in many areas of nutrition and consumer research, with a focus on food and health.

Burping and flatulence: methane gas emissions and cows

Research is looking at how to reduce methane emissions from cattle, which accounts for almost 20% of Ireland's total greenhouse gas. Methane lives in the atmosphere for approximately 12 years and is then converted into carbon dioxide. Read the full article here

By Katie Starsmore and Laurence Shalloo

Katie is a Research Technician with VistaMilk and Laurence is a Research Officer at Teagasc.

From kimchi to kombucha, a guide to the world of fermented foods

Many of us use fermented foods as a potential source of live microbes to benefit our health. Food fermentation is a distinct form of food processing where foods are produced through the actions of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi. Read the full article here

By Liam Walsh, Teagasc

Liam is a PhD researcher located at Teagasc, Moorepark Food Research Centre.

Why are the forests in the Dublin mountains getting a makeover?

The move to continuous cover forestry will have huge benefits for the environment and our health. The essence of continuous cover forestry is that a woodland will maintain a permanent forest cover once established. With a focus on individual trees, the concept of rotation no longer applies. Read the full article here

By Edward Wilson

Edward is a Teagasc Walsh Scholar, he is a silviculturist with interests in tree biology, silvicultural systems and forest conservation

If monkeys are fermenting, why aren't you?

Just how old is the art of fermentation and why should you be doing it too? Egyptians pioneered the fine art of beer brewing and bread leavening at least 4,500 years ago. Ancient Chinese were brewing mead 9,000 years ago according to evidence found in clay pots uncovered in Jiahu, China. While physical evidence from further back is lacking, we can look to evolution for insights into our long history with fermented foods. Read the full article here

By Dr John Leech 

Dr John Leech is a MASTER research officer at APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre based at Teagasc

How do fruit and veg affect our digestive system?

Fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of both macro- and micronutrients and are also key to a healthy digestive system. Fibre from fruit and vegetables such as oranges and carrots stimulate the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract. Meanwhile, vegetables such as chickpeas and spinach are good sources of protein, which are the building blocks of our cells and muscles. Read the full article here

By Muireann Egan, Teagasc

Dr Muireann Egan is Communications Officer at the Teagasc Food Research Programme

The long, quiet agricultural revolution in rural Ireland

The Famine set the scene for another, longer and quieter revolution in Ireland in the 20th century, too, one that was no less significant in terms of its affect on people's lives. The Famine had been catastrophic for rural Ireland especially. Not only had the human toll been heaviest there, but the very structures of rural society had been broken by the Famine. Read the full article here

By Mícheál Ó Fathartaigh, NUI Galway

This piece is based on the recent publication Developing Rural Ireland: a History of the Irish Agricultural Advisory Services 

The dark mysteries of the soil beneath our feet

Soil is a complex matrix and its chemical composition often depends on the location in the landscape, the parent material underneath, and the influence of the management above. Defining chemical reactions in soil is akin to the art of alchemy. In fact, the word alchemy has its roots in the Arabic word kimia or khem, which refers to the fertile black soil of the Nile Delta. Read the full article here

By Dr Karen Daly, Teagasc

Dr Karen Daly is a Senior Research Officer working in soil and catchment science at Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford.

Can we plant 22 million trees a year?

The government recently announced plans to plant 440 million trees by 2040 in an effort to tackle our greenhouse gas emissions, a third of which come from agriculture. That's 22 million newly planted trees a year and, to the uninitiated, it sounds like a lot. So can it be done? Read the full article here

 RTE Brainstorm

Meet the farmers of tomorrow

In this Brainstorm podcast, we find out what out future farms and farmers might look like. From technology to crops, Ella McSweeney talks to Peter Mooney (Maynooth University), Aine Macken-Walsh (Teagasc) and Shane Conway (NUI Galway) about what will be happening in the future on, off, over and under the land. Listen to it here