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Ministers McConalogue and Heydon announce €24.2 million in research grants

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D., and Minister of State with special responsibility for Research and Development Martin Heydon, T.D., today announced funding of 20 research grants worth just over €24 million to support research across 16 institutes.

Ministers McConalogue and Heydon announce €24.2 million in research grants

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s 2023 Thematic Research Call will support research across the agri-food, forest and bioeconomy sectors in areas including:

  • Climate change
  • Water quality and biodiversity
  • Animal welfare
  • Bovine TB
  • Ash dieback
  • Organic agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Food health and nutrition
  • Food safety
  • Farmer mental health

In this year’s successful projects almost half of the total investment, €11.6 million across nine projects, relates to climate action and the agri-environment research. 

Commenting on the announcement, Minister McConalogue said “I am delighted to announce funding of over €24 million for 20 research projects arising from the 2023 Thematic Research Call. The work funded under our research calls is essential to equip farmers, foresters, and the wider agri-food sector with the tools needed to improve their economic, environmental, and social sustainability in the years ahead. It is also pivotal to developing the next generation of cutting-edge technologies and innovations that will ensure we are globally attractive and competitive as a food island.’’

The Minister went on to say that ‘‘I am impressed at the breadth of areas being funded, ranging from climate mitigation, water quality improvement and biodiversity restoration to animal health and welfare, food safety, and food health and nutrition, among others. I am also heartened to see that the projects will involve the education and training of over 40 postgraduate students and over 60 contract researchers, thus ensuring a continuous stream of highly skilled scientific talent coming through to our industry.”

Minister of State Heydon said ‘‘When I launched the 2023 Thematic Research Call earlier this year, my objectives were to build research capacity, expertise and reputation in critical areas of importance, address research gaps and provide opportunities for early-stage researchers, encouraging collaboration across institutions and across scientific disciplines. In announcing this funding today of over €24 million from four research funders across the island, I firmly believe that the twenty projects involved will fulfil those objectives.”  

Minister Heydon concluded “We are in a time of increasing uncertainty and challenges, further strengthening the capacity and capability of Ireland’s national agri-food, forest and bioeconomy research base is critical to underpinning its future competitiveness and sustainability. It is therefore vital that the results and outcomes of this research does not sit on a shelf. It must be communicated and translated into innovations, technologies, products, policies, or other deliverables so that this public good research has real world impact. I congratulate the twenty project coordinators and wish them and their teams every success over the coming years.”

As part of the on-going North-South co-operation on agri-food research and innovation, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Northern Ireland collaborated in this research call by providing funding to enable eligible research performing organisations in Northern Ireland to participate in projects with partners in Ireland. A total of five projects will benefit from this collaboration. Some of the projects will also be co-funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).


Notes for Editor:

      A.  Projects supported

  1. Development and application of transformative genetic, dietary and manure management technologies to reduce methane emissions from Irish pasture-based beef and dairy production systems; Coordinator – Sinead Watters, Teagasc

      2. A solution-oriented framework for reducing the slaughter age of Irish beef cattle; Coordinator – Paul Smith, Teagasc

      3. Enteric methane emissions from pasture-based ruminant livestock; Country specific mitigation and emission factors; Coordinator – Ben Lahart;            Teagasc

       4. Geospatial drainage status detection mapping of organic rich soils for NIR and policy support needs; Coordinator – Owen Fenton, Teagasc

       5. Monitoring and evaluating targeted mitigation approaches to improve Water Quality; Coordinator – Daire O’hUallacháin, Teagasc

       6. Assessing the impact of changing climate on clover-pollinator interactions in Irish grasslands; Coordinator – Rossana Henriques, University                  College Cork 

       7.  Breeding Fraxinus excelsior (Common or European ash) for dieback disease tolerance to conserve and re-establish ash on the island of                       Ireland; Coordinator – Dheeraj Rathore, Teagasc  

       8. Biostimulants for Grass Production; Coordinator – Carl Ng, University College Dublin 

       9. Developing semen technology to improve the sustainability of the national herd; Coordinator – Sean Fair, University of Limerick

     10. Integrative genomics and development of next-generation tools for the control and eradication of bovine tuberculosis; Coordinator – David                   MacHugh, University College Dublin

     11. Transdisciplinary Interventions to Control Salmonella in Irish Pig Farms; Coordinator – Finola Leonard, University College Dublin

     12. Growing Resilient Organic Farming Systems: GRO-FarmS; Coordinator – Kevin Kilcline, Teagasc

     13.  Farming Minds: Developing evidence based interventions to enhance farmer mental health; Coordinator – Tomás Russel, University College                  Dublin

      14.  Ancient Woodlands Ireland; Coordinator – John Devaney, National University of Ireland Maynooth

      15.  Optimising the Current and Prospective Value of the Bio-economy in Ireland; Coordinator – Cathal O’Donoghue, National University of reland              Galway

      16. Circular Bovine and Ovin Co-Products Valorisation; Coordinator – Patrick Murray, Technological University of the Shannon

      17. Gluten-free innovation for novel, sustainable food systems: From farm gate to consumer plate; Coordinator – Eimear Gallagher, Teagasc

      18. Uncovering Protein Potential via Fermentation Technology; Coordinator – Olivia McAuliffe, Teagasc

      19.  National Pre-school Nutrition Survey II; Coordinator – Breige McNulty, University College Dublin

      20.  Detection and Control of Listeria monocytogenes in food production; Coordinator – Kaye Burgess, Teagasc

More information on the successful projects can be found here. 


        B.   DAFM 2023 Thematic Research Call

The DAFM 2023 Thematic Research Call implements the thematic research strand of the DAFM support for research. More information about the five research support strands operated by DAFM can be found here.

The Call sought proposals across five thematic areas: Climate Mitigation and Adaptation, Agri-Environment, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Smart, Sustainable Animal & Plant Production, Health & Welfare, Bioeconomy, Rural Economy, Agri-Digitalisation & Data, and Safe, Nutritious and Sustainable Food Processing and Consumption.

       C.   Call Statistics

  • 16 research performing organisations
  • 110 research positions
  • 48 postgraduate research positions (41 PhDs and 7 MScs) 
  • 62 contract research positions
  • Funding sources: 
    • DAFM: €21.3 million
    • DAERA NI: €1.9 million
    • EPA: €0.5 million
    • NPWS: €0.426 million

       D.   Institutions receiving funding

  • Teagasc, 
  • University College Dublin, 
  • University College Cork, 
  • Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, 
  • National University of Ireland Galway, 
  • Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, 
  • Munster Technological University, 
  • University of Limerick, 
  • Trinity College Dublin, 
  • Technological University Dublin, 
  • National University of Ireland Maynooth, 
  • Technological University of the Shannon, 
  • South East Technological University, 
  • Atlantic Technological University, 
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology 
  • Tyndall National Institute.