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Agri-Food Business and Spatial Analysis


That AFBSA be:

  • A recognised centre of expertise for social- and behavioural-science based research and spatial analyses on socio-economic and environmental issues relating to innovation in agriculture, food and the bioeconomy


In line with the Teagasc strategic objectives, the department’s overall objective is to collect timely, quality information, to inform decision-making by stakeholders and to support the broader Teagasc research and innovation agenda. This involves undertaking research and interpreting market and policy developments, including:

  • Identifying strategic market opportunities, including new value chains, new business models and new products
  • Understanding consumer-citizen behaviour, attitudes and values
  • Understanding the socio-cultural context framing farmer behaviour
  • Facilitating the engagement of diverse actors (citizens through to farmers) in research and innovation processes
  • Evaluating the impacts of rural restructuring for farm and non-farm households
  • Applying new geospatial understanding and technology to support sustainable agriculture practice and policy at all scales

This work is carried out across four thematic areas.

Agri-innovation & learning

Taking a wide perspective on innovation, e.g. organisational innovations, digitalisation, animal health and production issues, and considering practitioner-led as well as expert-led sources of innovation,

  • Conduct primary research on human behaviour and facilitate open innovation approaches in the sector using macro (open innovation and AKIS) and micro (individual farmer decision making) level analyses
  • Support implementation of the multi-actor approach to innovation in a range of contexts, e.g. short food supply chains, sustainability in the beef sector.
  • Employ user-centred design and the multi-actor approach to support responsible research and innovation in the area of digital agriculture and data governance
  • Undertaken socio-culturally sensitive approaches to understanding and supporting farm-level change
  • Co-design of policy and extension tools and programmes.

Market & consumer-citizen research

Address multi-disciplinary themes that span the supply chain, e.g. sustainability, innovation, food quality, health, to contribute to the improved marketing and innovation performance of the Irish agri-food sector, and wider the bioeconomy :

  • Carry out primary research on consumer behaviour and attitudes towards health, sustainability, novel food technologies and ingredients, and tastes and preferences
  • Identify new market opportunities in the wider bioeconomy, with appreciation of non-food areas as well as interactions between food, health and sustainability
  • Facilitate public engagement processes to support responsible research and innovation in the areas of food and farming (e.g. new technology development, farm animal health & welfare, human health and nutrition).

Sustainable Livelihoods

  • Research on farmer behaviours and attitudes regarding farm safety, including operation of machinery and human-animal relations
  • Co-design of interventions to improve farmer health and welfare.
  • Co-design of policy options to future-proof Irish farming in the context of various policy targets.

Spatial Analysis

  • Spatial analysis and remote sensing of rural Ireland to provide a comprehensive analysis of all land–based activities at the interface between the agri-food sector, economy and environment
  • Development of digital technologies for tracking and managing carbon emissions and carbon sequestration focused on land usage practices
  • Application and use of web mobile tools to facilitate location-based data collection to aid context-based decision making
  • Develop knowledge and tools to support SMART agriculture
  • Building geo-informatics infrastructure to support analysis of agricultural, environmental and rural development policy.

Department Structure

  1. Agri-Innovation & Learning
  2. Market & Consumer-citizen Research
  3. Sustainable Livelihoods
  4. Spatial Analysis  

Read more about the department Agrifood Business and Spatial Analysis (PDF)

Agrifood Business and Spatial Analysis Staff

Department Head

Maeve Henchion

Department Team

Post-Docs and contract staff