€2.7million funding for Ireland-Wales ‘Healthy Oats’ collaboration
The ‘Healthy Oats’ project – €2.18million of which has been granted from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Ireland-Wales Cooperation Programme will help farmers and industry prepare for the changes pending under the EU Green deal, including reduced use of fertilisers & pesticides
(Image above: Research in UCD and Teagasc is determining if old heritage varieties of oats show resistance to some of the diseases that cause yield loss for farmers today)
Led by UCD, in collaboration with Aberystwyth University, Swansea University and Teagasc, researchers will work with agricultural communities and stakeholders to promote the health, economic and environmental benefits of growing oats – a crop which is ideally suited to the climate of both countries and well-established in their traditional farming systems.
The researchers will test the resilience and performance of different varieties under reduced and targeted input tillage systems, and will work to identify varieties that have a combination of enhanced performance under low inputs and superior nutritional and health benefits.
Consumer demand for oats is increasing with the demand for healthier products, with food manufacturers capitalising on new opportunities in food categories including cereal bars, breads and drinks. The higher protein and oil content of oats mean that they have very high nutritional value and, in addition, are an effective replacement for imported soya.
It is recognised that Oats grow very well in Wales and Ireland and new products will provide the opportunity to increase both production and add value to a traditional crop. In addition to examining modern oat varieties, this project will explore the climate adaptability and grain composition of heritage varieties of oats from across Wales and Ireland.
Head of Crops Research at Teagasc, Dr Ewen Mullins Healthy Oats, recognises that in combination with on-going projects, the 'Healthy Oats' project will deliver research-led solutions to current and future challenges. This will support the expansion of the oats market, bringing added value to producers and all actors in the value chain.
A digital platform will be built as part of the project so that information and knowledge can be shared with industry and other stakeholders.
See full Teagasc press release here