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David Wills, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough pictured with Professor Diao, a senior member of the management committee in the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS) Feed Research Institute,
Published: 09 Jan 2015
AFBI will be holding a series of lunchtime seminars at it Headquarters in Newforge Lane, Belfast during 2015.  The first one entitled "Plant community structure of grassland field margins: an ecological basis for management in Northern Ireland" will be held on Tuesday 20th January 2015 at 1.30pm.  The seminar will be given by Dr Sharon Spratt from Crops, Grassland & Ecology Branch, Plant Testing Station at Crossnacreevy.
David Johnston and John Archer recently welcomed a group of Chinese scientists to AFBI Loughgall.
Background
As the milk-production potential of dairy cows in Northern Ireland has increased, concentrate feeding has also increased in an attempt to meet the greater energy requirements of these higher-yielding cows. However, as concentrates are more expensive than forages, it is important to ensure that concentrates are used efficiently. Despite this, there is evidence that higher levels of concentrates than needed are being offered on some farms. In these scenarios, the milk-yield response to concentrates offered are often poor and uneconomic, and in many cases a proportion of the concentrate offered could be replaced by lower-cost silage.
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Whilst most grazing livestock were enjoying plentiful supplies of high quality grass and near perfect grazing conditions in early October, a period of very wet weather during early November brought the grazing season on most farms to an abrupt end. The 2014 growing season will be remembered as a very good grass year following a number of difficult seasons. However, as always, there were a few challenges during the year, most notably during the main harvest window for first cut silage.  Once again details of grass growth through the season were recorded and highlighted within the DARD and AgriSearch funded GrassCheck project.  The data presented in Figure 1 summarise how grass growth during 2014 compared with average growth during the past seven years (2007 to 2013).
The new AFBI/DARD Cereal Recommended List for 2015 was launched at a recent Northern Ireland Seed Merchants’ Meeting.  This booklet is a comprehensive guide to cereal varieties best suited for use within Northern Ireland and is based on data collected from the extensive variety evaluation programmes carried out by AFBI Crossnacreevy and part-funded by the Home Grown Cereal Authority (HGCA) (www.hgca.com).
A group of Chinese agricultural scientists has spent the week with the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) for training on grass and clover evaluation at AFBI’s Plant Testing Station at Crossnacreevy. Many of the 17 scientists are directors of grass evaluation stations from geographically widespread regions including the island of Hainan in the south, Fuzhou in the east, Inner Mongolia in the north, Lhasa in Tibet and Beijing.
Background
The first few weeks of lactation are the most stressful period throughout the lactation for the high yielding dairy cow as she adjusts to a new routine, mixes with a ‘new’ group of animals, and recovers from calving.  In addition, milk yield increases rapidly in the weeks following calving, and in many cases higher yielding cows are unable to consume enough feed to meet their nutrient requirements.  As a result, cows frequently enter a prolonged period of negative energy balance in early lactation. Negative energy balance is reflected in a loss of body condition, an increased risk of metabolic disorders, reduced immunity, and a decline in ‘functional traits’ such as health and fertility.  Indeed, it is not surprising that the vast majority of production diseases occur in early lactation, before cows reach their maximum milk yield.
Glenariff, an intermediate diploid perennial ryegrass bred by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) is the newest variety to be released from the Department of Agriculture For Rural Development  (DARD) funded grass breeding programme at Loughgall. The variety will be commercialised in spring 2015 by Barenbrug UK Ltd.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) jointly hosted a major Conference for the Northern Ireland beef industry on Thursday 13th November 2014 at the King’s Hall Conference Centre, Belfast.