Safe and sustainable irrigation water options for fruit and vegetable production
It is predicted that climate change will have an impact on our fruit & vegetable producers in Ireland. Teagasc, along with partners in TU Dublin & UCD, has recently started a DAFM funded project called HortAssure which focuses on microbial & chemical safety in fruit and vegetable production.
Climate change brings many challenges. It is predicted that in years to come, Ireland will face hotter, drier summers. This will have an impact for our fruit and vegetable producers. It will likely mean that they will need to use irrigation water more frequently, instead of relying on rainwater as they would traditionally do.
International studies have shown that irrigation water, and water used in processing, can be a source of contamination of fruit and vegetables with food poisoning bacteria and viruses. It is therefore critical that the water used is of the highest quality.
Teagasc, along with partners in TU Dublin and UCD, has recently started a Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine funded project called HortAssure which is focused on microbial and chemical safety in fruit and vegetables. In particular, a key focus within the project will be on the quality and safety of irrigation water.
The project, led by Kaye Burgess, a senior researcher in Teagasc Ashtown, will look at the quality of water from different sources, used in the production of fresh fruit and vegetables. It will investigate right down to identifying the microbial communities present and investigate options for reusing water in a sustainable and safe manner. Such information will identify when and where water treatment may be needed, taking cost and practicality into account. HortAssure will also investigate various options for the treatment of water Thus it will support Irish fruit and vegetable producers in assuring the safety and quality of their crops, using sustainable irrigation options.
To learn more about food safety and Teagasc’s research in this area, register for “Sustainable, Nutritious and Delicious- What’s New in Fruit and Veg?” on Thursday, November 11th at 11am. This online event is part of Teagasc’s Festival of Farming and Food for Science Week 2021.
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