Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Research Strategy

Ireland’s crop production produces the lowest amount of GHG output per unit area of our main agricultural systems and while our maritime climate supports consistently high yields, that same climate also supports the prevalence of high /pathogen weed and pest levels. Consequently, costs are driven by high inputs in addition to land access and other associated costs.

The conclusions of the Crops 2030 sectoral strategy are clear; the future sustainability of the sector is dependent on the need to develop high value markets, while exploiting the authenticity and provenance of Irish sourced material to underpin domestic/export food markets and building on our high yield capacity.

In response, our focus is to underpin the sustainability of Irish cropping systems using an integrated research and knowledge-transfer (KT) platform, resourced by an expert team that partner with farmers and industry across the breadth of the crops sector. Nationally, we have the only multi-disciplinary, lab-to-field programme spanning agronomy, soils, breeding, systems management as well as molecular and conventional pathology and entomology, with additional internal/external partnerships also covering environmental, food and socio-economic investigations.

Our project outputs deliver impact through collaborations with specialist crop KT programmes to farm advisors and ultimately farmers and the industry. The close connection of the program to the industry allows rapid problem diagnosis. This affords the unique opportunity to deliver to stakeholders both applied and strategic solutions across diverse communication platforms, thereby accelerating early adoption to address present/future challenges.

 Our ambition is to develop sustainable cropping systems in response to present/future challenges and aligned with EU Farm-to-Fork goals while supporting the development of novel high-value opportunities for further exploitation. To achieve this, we aim to;

  • Generate and appraise the impact of new IPM management strategies where traditional approaches are ineffective/unavailable due to the loss of efficacy/registration of PPPs
  • Investigate the impact of cultural control and ecological strategies to mitigate weed and pest incidence through crop rotations.
  • Develop/apply new technologies and processes to improve local and regional crop-specific disease forecasting
  • Evaluate the efficacy of near-market fungicides for the control of cereal and potato diseases and cereal breeding collections to identify material better suited to Irish conditions, with a focus on low-input, climate resilience traits
  • Identify parameters of crop growth, development and yield formation to support novel management regimes designed to increase resilience against climatic stress
  • Expand the role of alternative protein/forage crops in crop rotations in order to deliver high value material for food/feed processing, in collaboration with Teagasc animal/food production programmes and to expand rotational choice
  • Evaluate the potential of break/niche crops to expand rotational choice and deliver novel sources of food/feed for downstream processors
  • Quantify the impact of mechanisation systems on soil structural quality, crop performance and sustainability, by assessing alternative non-plough establishment systems, machinery traffic impact and precise input applications.
  • Deliver weed management strategies via KT partnerships to mitigate the impact of grassweeds and the potential loss of herbicide actives in the near future
  • Develop and validate (in partnership with CELUP colleagues) the environmental impact of crop production practices across a range of metrics including carbon / GHG, soil structure and health, biodiversity impact and nutrient use efficiency
  • Investigate the value of habitats on tillage farms and how biodiversity can contribute overall farm sustainability 
  • Improve nutrient use efficiency of crops through agronomy and/or genetics so as to support high nutrient efficient use thereby helping with  potential future restrictions on fertiliser inputs
  • Quantify the effects of non-crop vegetation cover on soil processes and subsequent crop productivity across a variety of soil types.
  • Expand the successful integration of conventional and genomics-based breeding approaches to deliver new potato and forage varieties with increased environmental resilience that are commercially relevant to domestic/export markets in collaboration with commercial partners
  • Maintain the capacity to deploy novel breeding techniques as important tools in plant breeding as needs arise
  • Identify sustainable agronomic measures that support the use of domestic cereal stocks in malting/distilling by both mainstream and niche producers
  • Develop crop management practices for oats, which will enhance both yield and quality, while assisting industry in the development of new food/feed products
  • Improve food safety by developing risk assessment models and mitigation strategies to decrease chemical contaminants, such as heavy metals/mycotoxins, in crops
  • Explore alternative market opportunities for current crop derived waste streams for the production of novel sources of high value protein and/or bio-refining
  • Produce short impact assessment reports detailing the agronomic and economic consequences of current EU policy on the tillage sector