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Research Impact Highlights - Crops

Improved monitoring of cereal pests

Virgile Ballandras, Louise McNamara and Stephen Byrne (CELUP)

Research Impact Highlights in 2022

Identifying and testing aphids is time-consuming, impeding rapid, high-throughput insect monitoring programmes. Crop pest monitoring involves painstaking processing of bulk samples and applying multiple molecular and antibody tests to determine aphid virus status. To build a national aphid monitoring programme capacity requires improved molecular tools for aphid surveillance.

Our genome sequencing survey of infected crops across Ireland generated knowledge of viral genomes, and we re-sequenced genomes of multiple grain aphid lineages to understand variability. These data were used to develop AphidMASH, a genotyping platform to determine aphid clonal lineage and the presence of yellow dwarf viruses, and identify mutations for insecticide resistance.

AphidMASH has enhanced the national aphid monitoring network by providing a high-throughput test, able to capture more information on each aphid without increasing testing costs. AphidMASH allows continuous monitoring of grain aphids for emerging mutations conferring resistance to insecticides. Given the potential negative impact of viruses on crop yields, emerging resistance to insecticides, and EU ambitions to halve pesticide usage by 2030, it’s important to build national capacity to monitor aphids and the viruses they vector, underpinning Integrated Pest Management programmes for the Irish tillage sector. 

Contact: stephen.byrne@teagasc.ie 
Other contributors: National University of Ireland Maynooth.
Funding: Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme. 
Impact Pathway: Capacity Building; Technology Development & Adoption.

[pic credit] Andrew Downes

Maximising native cereal and protein feeds

Mark McGee, Edward O’Riordan and Aidan Moloney (AGRIP)

Research Impact Highlights in 2022

To reduce dependency on imports and international supply chains, as well as providing environmentally-sustainable growth opportunities for the Irish tillage sector, there is increasing interest in exploiting locally produced cereal and legume crops as feedstuffs for cattle.

Cattle finishing experiments at Grange compared the intake, growth and carcass traits of steers offered grass silage supplemented with contrasting cereal grain-based rations containing supplements of flaked beans, flaked peas or maize by-products. The concentrate rations were formulated to contain similar crude protein concentrations.

Results showed that the nutritive value of rolled barley was similar to rolled oats and maize meal, and flaked beans and peas were similar to maize dried distiller’s grains, and dried corn gluten feed when included in the supplementary concentrate to beef cattle offered grass silage.

This implies that, under comparable feeding conditions, native cereal and protein crops can be readily used as alternative feed ingredients. Market end-users are now provided with critical information on which to formulate beef rations based on inclusion of native-produced protein and energy sources. 

Contact: mark.mcgee@teagasc.ie
Other contributors: University College Dublin.
Funding: Teagasc.
Impact Pathway: Technology Development & Adoption.

[pic credit] Teagasc