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Minister welcomed to VistaMilk SFI Research Centre

VistaMilk, an SFI world-leading centre for precision-base dairy production & processing recently hosted Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Charlie McConologue T.D. Senior members of his Department & Dr Siobhan Roche from co-funding partner Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) were also present

The VistaMilk team put together an exciting showcase to highlight the vast array of research taking place across its extensive network. 

Carbon capturing capacity of Irish soils

Professor Karl Richards, funded investigator at VistaMilk and Head of Environment Soils & Land Use Department at Teagasc kicked off the showcase with an overview of his team’s work on the carbon capturing capacity of Irish soils. VistaMilk have recently invested in two Eddy Covariance towers to add to the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory network as well as the human resources to operate the network and mine the resulting data.

Measuring methane

VistaMilk researchers Katie Starsmore and Ben Lahart demonstrated their novel research on measuring methane in grazing dairy cows using GreenFeed technology.  This exciting research builds upon VistaMilk’s investigations into reducing methane emissions in grazing systems.

Image capture analysis of multispecies swards

Dr. Deirdre Hennessy, VistaMilk funded investigator and grassland senior research officer at Teagasc presented her team’s studies on image capture analysis of multispecies swards. This technology, in time, will enable farmers to easily classify sward species diversity using a smart phone application; the research is now being expanded to estimate the quantity and quality of the pasture, a crucial cog in day-to-day farm management of all grazing animals globally.

Next generation sensor technology

VistaMilk colleagues Katie Sugrue (Teagasc) and Dr. Alan O’Riordan (Tyndall National Institute) spoke about their collaboration in delivering next generation sensor technology to improve animal health and welfare outcomes at farm level.

Using carotenoids to fortify dairy foods 

VistaMilk’s Professor John Nolan and colleague Dr Alfonso Prado Cabrero from the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, hosted by Waterford Institute of Technology, introduced their ground-breaking work on the use of carotenoids (a type of antioxidant) to fortify dairy foods to improve human health and nutrition.

Digital map

Vistamilk PhD student Elena Hayes spoke about her work in developing a digital milk map in Ireland. This map will assist producers in assessing milk for redistribution across the dairy supply chain.

Dr Siobhan Roche, Director of Science for the Economy at Science Foundation Ireland said, “Part of the world-leading SFI Research Centre network funded by the Irish Government, VistaMilk is producing fundamental and translational research for precision pasture-based dairying, supporting the agriculture and dairy sectors which play a significant role in the Irish economy. The Centre’s research excellence and innovation is helping to secure Ireland’s competitive edge, providing valuable economic and societal impacts.”

Minister McConologue during his address commented, “What VistaMilk is doing is targeting the whole soil-to-society ecosystem and I know you will agree we look forward to seeing what the future will bring.”

Professor Frank O’Mara, Director of Teagasc closed proceedings highlighting the importance of centres such as VistaMilk to the entire research landscape. “Centres like VistaMilk have brought areas of expertise outside of Teagasc’s remit and will greatly enhance the future of farming.”