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Minister Heydon views sustainability research in Teagasc Johnstown Castle

Environmental sustainability is now central to all agricultural production in Ireland. Never before have farmers, policy makers, or the general public asked for more technologies and tools for agriculture to meet the challenges of reducing emissions, restoring biodiversity or improving water quality. These societal challenges are at the heart of research undertaken in the Teagasc Environment Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford.

Minister Heydon views sustainability research in Teagasc Johnstown Castle
Martin Heydon T.D, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety, and New Market Development pictured with James Rambaud, Gary Lanigan, Professor Frank O'Mara and Karl Richards on a recent visit to Teagasc Johnstown Castle. Picture: Patrick Browne

Martin Heydon T.D, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with responsibility for research and development along with senior department officials recently visited Teagasc Johnstown Castle to see first-hand the latest research underway. The visit highlighted the innovative research being undertaken to improve the sustainability of Irish farms. The delegation received an overview of the ongoing fertiliser research that is being undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining crop yields. Previous and current projects on low emission nitrogen fertilisers were presented, demonstrating that there were practical, low cost actions that farmers can take to reduce emissions.

Research on multispecies swards that has been conducted in Johnstown Castle over the past 15 years has highlighted that these swards reduced nitrogen fertiliser requirements and performed better under drought conditions compared to high nitrogen ryegrass monocultures.  The delegation were introduced to the multispecies sward dairy system experiment. Dr Karl Richards, head of the Teagasc Environment Research Department, Johnstown castle, said; “Multispecies swards have recently been shown in Johnstown Castle to reduce the potential greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide. Questions remain as to the effect of these systems on dairy production and soil carbon sequestration which are now being addressed in Johnstown Castle.”

Professor Frank O’Mara, Director of Research in Teagasc said; “The research investment over recent years in Johnstown Castle has enabled the programme to expand to meet the growing demands for farming and to put soil management at the centre of sustainability.”

Minister Heydon said: “I’m delighted that research funding from DAFM research stimulus fund has been an important enabler of the environmental research programme in Johnstown Castle. At an EU level, soil health is now on a par with Cancer research and the research in Johnstown is ready to expand to meet this major societal challenge.”