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A DARD funded research project recently completed by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) has reported for the first time the activity of different wildlife species at night in farmyards in Northern Ireland. The results suggest that several species are regular visitors to yards and that we need to increase biosecurity levels in farmyards to minimise the risk of disease spread.
Published: 18 Feb 2015
Mr Malcolm Taylor, Project leader in the Food Hygiene Unit of AFBI is involved in several areas of commercial research and testing, as well as Government and publicly funded research, primarily with the red and white meat sector. AFBI provides molecular diagnostic testing as well as molecular research in the area of Food Microbiology.
Professor Louise Cosby has taken up the position of Head of Virology in the Veterinary Sciences Division of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).  Louise will provide overall management of the Virology Branch where she will lead a multidisciplinary programme of research aimed at improving the diagnosis and control of viral diseases of farmed animals. This includes work on new and emerging viral infections of animals.  She will also have a major role in AFBI’s provision of an emergency response capability for outbreaks of diseases which pose a threat to the health and welfare of livestock in Northern Ireland.
Challenging times
In the ‘Going-for Growth’ strategy, the Northern Ireland (NI) dairy industry is being encouraged to capitalise on the rapidly growing global demand for dairy products. At the moment though, it is going through a very challenging period, as a result of difficult international market conditions. On top of this, milk producers have had to cope with restrictions imposed under the European Union Nitrates Directive. These restrictions, while well-intentioned and aimed at reducing water pollution, are often costly and difficult to implement, and are adding to pressures currently faced by dairy producers.
Published: 11 Feb 2015
The Association of Veterinary Surgeons Practising in Northern Ireland held its annual meeting at the AFBI Veterinary Laboratory in Omagh on 7 January 2015. The laboratory has been hosting this meeting since 1975 and the event is a key date in the veterinary calendar.  A large turnout of over 100 veterinary practitioners attended.  
Professor Margaret Patterson of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) received her OBE at Buckingham Palace recently. Professor Patterson, from Carryduff, received the award in the 2014 Birthday Honours list for services to the agri-food industry, especially food safety and quality.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) recently upgraded its meteorological and oceanographic packages in Belfast Lough, which have now been linked to a new public web page. This allows both commercial and leisure users access to data in real time, including wind speed and direction, water and air temperature and water depth.
Conor Dolan a PhD Student in the Fisheries & Aquatic Ecosystems Branch of AFBI will deliver a seminar on Tuesday 17 February 2015 at 1.30 pm in Room G5, AFBI Headquarters, Newforge Lane, Belfast, BT9 5PX entitled, "The male European eel (Anguilla anguilla) Biology, Ecology and Genetics".
The “Practical on-farm Renewable Energy” event is organised by DARD, CAFRE, AFBI and the UFU in order to provide practical information to the agricultural and rural sectors about available renewable energy options. It will be held at the CAFRE Enniskillen Campus on 18th February 2015 from 13.00 pm to 9.00 pm.
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.
£2m funding open for registration Innovate UK  has launched a funding competition for feasibility studies with up to two million pounds funding available.
The competition is open only to small and micro companies. across the following technology sectors:
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).