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Impact of Teagasc Research Highlighted

Teagasc launched a new document ‘Teagasc Research Impact Highlights 2013’ in Dublin today, Tuesday, 29 July.  Dr Frank O’Mara, Director of Research in Teagasc, said: “This document is a collection of some of the highlights of where Teagasc research has impacted positively on the agri-food industry in 2013. While our researchers published over 400 A1 scientific papers in 2013, as an organisation that conducts mainly applied research, we work hard to ensure our research programmes will have impact and are relevant to the Irish agricultural and food sectors. These 20 highlights of some recent impacts of our research show that the investment in research in Teagasc does pay dividends.”

The document features some of the research areas that have had a profound impact on the development of the agri-food industry in Ireland and further afield in the past year. Among the highlights featured in the document are a new cheese technology platform that allows the manufacture of cheeses from reassembled milks formulated from dairy ingredients. The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) has licensed the platform for the development of white cheeses. Based on this technology, IDB has recently invested €20 million in Saudi Arabia, mainly relating to development of fresh white cheese and other cheese products for the local market.

Teagasc has also developed expertise in gluten-free food products and throughout 2013 has collaborated closely with a number of bakeries to contribute to the development and launch of new ranges of high-quality products on the Irish, European and international marketplace. In particular, novel gluten-free breads, with good texture and flavour, and confectionery-type products, have been developed.

A reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was completed in 2013 and sets out EU policy and supports to the sector for the next seven years. Teagasc conducted research on the impact of the CAP reform agreement and its implementation on Irish agriculture and provided this to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout the reform negotiations process. This analysis contributed to the successful completion of the CAP reform under the Irish EU presidency.

Sexed semen allows farmers to control the sex of calves born to their cows. In 2013, Teagasc used 15,000 straws in a field research trial, possibly the largest such trial ever conducted in the world. Greater usage of sexed semen has benefits for both the dairy industry (allowing faster expansion post quota), and the beef industry (fewer low value male dairy calves). This has the potential to be one of the most important technologies introduced on Irish farms in recent years.

Teagasc, in collaboration with the ICBF and Weatherbys, developed a new genotyping platform (SNP chip) in 2013 called the International Dairy and Beef (IDB) SNP chip for use in dairy and beef cattle breeding. The SNP chip allows more accurate national genetic evaluations through the exploitation of DNA information, but at a low cost.

Two new potato varieties, Bikini and Casino, were launched from the Teagasc potato breeding programme in 2013. Bikini is a main crop variety similar to Rooster while Casino is an excellent general potato, also suited for French fries.

Teagasc made a science-based submission to the review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) in 2013 which resulted in several changes to the NAP that were judged to be agronomically necessary and environmentally benign (significant increases in phosphorus allowances, a change in the definition of soiled water, controlled application of herbicides during the closed period for certain crops, and increased nitrogen allowance for winter barley).

The impacts featured come from research funded through Teagasc Grant-in-Aid, Department of Agriculture FIRM and Stimulus programmes, Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, the EU, the Dairy Levy, and a number of agri-food companies. The research was conducted in collaboration with many Irish and international partners.

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