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Agri-Food Business and Spatial Analysis

The department is divided into three groups, each with a different focus, but built on a base of social science and computer based analytical tools:

  • Spatial and Environmental Analysis. The primary focus of this team is to collaborate with the Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme and Knowledge Transfer Directorate rural development initiatives by providing research expertise built around the disciplines of environmental economics, rural geography, spatial analysis and remote sensing.
  • Food Market and Consumer Research. The primary objective of the Food Market and Consumer Research group is to contribute to the improved strategic marketing performance of the Irish agri-food sector by addressing the need for more future-oriented consumer and market insights. Within Teagasc, the team's role is to undertake social science based food marketing research to support the needs of the Food Programme and to coordinate cross-supply chain research within other Programme areas.
  • Agri-Innovation and Learning. The main objective of this team is to support Teagasc in making its knowledge transfer activities within the agricultural programmes more effective. Drawing on the disciplines of economics and eociology, it uses quantitative and qualitative social science tools to understand how farmers make decisions, learn and innovate, and study the effectiveness of alternative knowledge transfer methodologies.

Spatial Analysis
Spatial analysis research, comprising Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and earth observing (EO) remote sensing (RS) technologies provides a powerful platform for the comprehensive analysis of all land–based activities at the interface between the agri-food sector, economy and environment.

  • A key strength of GIS/EO is the potential for integrated analysis across all scales from the field to farm right up to national level.
  • New methods of analysis and the collection, archiving and distribution of spatial data on issues affecting the agri-food industry and the rural economy are being developed and applied.
  • Current research using RS technologies in space and on board aircraft is seeking to integrate real measurements of farm performance and output into Teagasc farm models, to map areas of high biodiversity and to make 3D-derived measurements of biomass contained in hedgerows and woodlands.
  • Spatial analysis seeks to equip stakeholders with the knowledge to achieve high farm output and excellent agri-environmental quality while providing evidence-based knowledge to support policymakers in designing, implementing and evaluating programmes.

Food Marketing
Food market and consumer research is conducted using qualitative and quantitative research techniques to support new product development and market orientation by food companies, and the design of food sector support services and policy measures by public bodies.

  • In consumer research there is a focus on examining consumer behaviour and attitudes in relation to health and novel food technologies.
  • Regarding market insights, the agenda covers such areas as innovation management, strategic market planning, marketing channels, and supply chain and relationship management.

Much of this research is fundamental to the Teagasc Food Programme ensuring such research is market oriented and providing a foundation for research commercialisation.

Agri-Innovation and Learning
Developing capabilities and use of best practices and technologies is critical to increasing employment, income, and profitability. Through national and EU funding, Teagasc examines innovation at farm and firm level.

  • At farm level, it focuses on the agricultural knowledge and innovation system (AKIS) and seeks to understand the innovation systems that support farmers’ capability building and their technology adoption, as well as the extension mechanisms and activities through which Teagasc interacts with its clients.
  • At firm level, the focus is more on technology transfer and understanding barriers to interaction between researchers and industry, and on understanding how companies organise themselves to support innovation.

Rural Development Research
Rural Development Research is concerned with improving our understanding of economic development in rural Ireland. It primarily focuses on:

  • Changes affecting farm enterprises and farm households and exploring their implications for the broader rural economy.
  • It applies spatial analysis and microsimulation methods to capture the interconnections between farms, farm households and whole sectors of agriculture. It does so in the context of the societal process of change operating at local, regional and global levels in order to simulate the impact of socio-economic and policy changes at the local level.

For further information on the Agri-Food Business and Spatial Analysis Department Dept, please contact:

Dr. Maeve Henchion
Head of Agri-Food Business and Spatial Analysis Department
Email: maeve.henchion@teagasc.ie
Phone: +353 (0)1 805 9515