AFBI grass breeders at Loughgall, in conjunction with international seed specialists Barenbrug, will be promoting a new tetraploid hybrid ryegrass, Drumlin at the Winter Fair. This further extends the portfolio of forage grasses which have been bred by AFBI for use in the Province.
Climate change has been attributed greenhouse gas emissions namely carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFC).
Sire selection represents the key breeding decision, with long-term effects on animal performance, health and welfare and overall farm profitability. Today’s breeding decision will result in replacements entering the dairy herd in 2012, with a direct impact on herd performance lasting to 2015 and beyond.
Increasing costs associated with finishing beef cattle have lead to an increased interest in legume/cereal wholecrop silages. The legume component of the wholecrop mixture fixes atmospheric nitrogen and makes it available to the plant thereby reducing the requirement to add fertiliser nitrogen. However, due to their low water soluble carbohydrate content and dry matter content, ensiling legumes leads to problems with effluent production and fermentation.
The 2009 grazing season provided many challenges, especially during the months of July and August. However, the welcome improvement in weather conditions during September and October allowed many farmers to finish the season with excellent ground and grazing conditions.
Diane Dodds MEP visited AFBI Hillsborough recently to learn first-hand of AFBI’s research into greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from agriculture and how they can be mitigated.
The Agri–Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Avure Technologies announce a High Pressure Processing seafood toll licence agreement.
Northern Ireland’s fight against the spread of bluetongue is attracting the best minds from all tiers of agri-science – and a young FE student can claim to have played a key role in developing pioneering research into the disease. As a result of going through the Sentinus Nuffield Bursary Scheme, Stuart Watson from Bangor spent 6 weeks on placement at Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) headquarters investigating the emergence and feeding activity of biting midges which act as transmitters of the bluetongue virus.
Pig ReGen Ltd has recently agreed to fund a three year PhD programme of research focusing on improving sow productivity in Northern Ireland. The research will be conducted at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Hillsborough. Mr Peter Cottney, a pig farmer’s son from Hillsborough, was successful in being awarded the Pig ReGen funding to complete the project.
Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has confirmed that Mr Seán Hogan, the Chairperson of the Board of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) is to have his term of office extended.
Biodiesel is a liquid biofuel made from vegetable oils. As a form of renewable energy the use of biodiesel decreases carbon emissions. It can be used to partially replace conventional diesel without engine modification or as 100% biodiesel in engines designed for its use. Biodiesel has many advantages compared with conventional diesel and its production is increasing as EU and government regulations require fuel companies to include a proportion of biofuel in all diesel sold at the pump.
The Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP) CONNECT’s search for ‘the next big thing’ has concluded with the innovative software, PiGIS™, coming away with a £3,000 prize for best product in the ‘Digital Media and Software’ category. This online software allows pig producers to assess and analyse the quality of pig carcasses produced on their farm and benchmark their data with others in the industry. Since the launch of PiGIS™ in Northern Ireland two years ago, it has been widely used by both producers and processers to help quantify pig carcase quality and in turn make informed management decisions. The PiGIS™ development team Mark Hawe, Erica Chisholm and Mark Browne accepted the award on behalf of the joint venture between the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI)
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute was delighted with the level of interest shown in the products and services that were demonstrated at the National Ploughing Championships this year. Some 180,000 people trooped through the site by close of the event on Thursday 24th September 2009 with a large number of people visiting both of the AFBI exhibits during the championships.
The Northern Ireland Pig Event 2009 was held on 16 September at AFBI Hillsborough. The event was well supported by the pig industry with over 100 pig producers from Northern and Southern Ireland in attendance in addition to many industry representatives.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute winter barley trials have been harvested from three locations with the mean of the treated control varieties being 8.6 tonnes per hectare (t per ha), 0.2 t per ha higher than the over-years mean for the treated controls for 2004-08. Saffron gave the highest individual treated yield of 11.8 t per ha at Downpatrick and averaged 9.16 t per ha across all thee trials. A new variety, KWS Cassia, matched Saffron across all trials with the same treated.
Generous staff from AFBI VSD (Stormont and Omagh) donated books and money to the Annual Booksale in aid of Macmillan Cancer Charity.
The winner of the AFBI fruit smoothie competition has been revealed
as Timmy Louden aged 9 from Ballymoney.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute recently hosted a historic gear conference at their Belfast headquarters to review recent research in gear technology and current EU regulations with particular reference to western waters (ICES areas VI and VII).
Insufficient intake of colostral antibodies during the first 24 hours of life is the main cause of calf health problems in the pre-weaning period. Calves that do not receive adequate antibodies through colostrum are twice as likely to die as those calves receiving adequate levels of colostrum. Data from AFBI Hillsborough reinforces these findings: calves with low immunity, during the pre-weaning period are more than twice as likely to experience calf scour as calves with adequate immunity. But not all colostrum is equal!
Livestock farmers can reduce calf rearing costs by up to 20% without impairing performance if they manage their calves individually, according to results from official studies carried out within the dairy herd at Hillsborough by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Compared with calves weaned at the traditional 8 week of age, those weaned based on their starter concentrate consumption weaned one week earlier and consumed almost 5kgs less of both milk replacer and concentrate, yet by 20 weeks of age, both groups of calves recorded similar weights.
With the onset of PMWS in Northern Ireland, Pietrain and Tempo genetics became popular choices of terminal sire. However, little was known about their growth and carcass performance. Therefore, a trial comparing the growth and carcass performance of pigs from terminal sires representing Tempo, Landrace, Pietrain (Austrian) and Pietrain (Belgium) genetics was conducted at AFBI, Hillsborough.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) is looking for keen, enthusiastic sheep farmers to participate in a research project to develop strategies to reduce lameness in the Northern Ireland Sheep flock.
Forage grasses, bred by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) at Loughgall, have consistently set new standards for grassland productivity over the years. Since 1991, international grass seed specialists, Barenbrug have had a partnership arrangement with DARD and AFBI to maximise the commercialisation of Loughgall bred varieties and these are now used very extensively across the UK, Ireland and further afield.
The 2009 grass growing season started badly on farms, with poor weather conditions through late April and May resulting in disappointing grass growth. The wet conditions through the early part of the season made grassland management difficult with many farmers having to re-house animals or limit grazing. This resulted in longer grazing intervals and in some cases heavy grass covers. However, the recent excellent weather through late May and early June has allowed silage harvesting to progress and has seen most animals return to grazing.
Research is currently underway at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Hillsborough to determine methods of reducing the ‘Carbon Footprint’ of agriculture. Agriculture is responsible for an estimated 23% of Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and as such, the industry will need to play its part if the UK is to achieve the target of an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by the year 2050, set by government in the UK Climate Change Bill. AFBI research will contribute to the development of sustainable and carbon friendly farming systems and the generation of ‘Carbon Footprint’ data for the products of agriculture.
Potato blight is the greatest threat to successful production of potatoes in gardens or allotments as well as in commercial crops. Caused by the fungus-like organism Phytophthora infestans, it’s been a problem ever since its introduction in 1845 resulted in the Irish Potato Famine.
EU farm commissioner, Marian Fischer-Boel joined nearly 700 entrants for the AFBI fruit cocktail competition at this years Balmoral Show.
The answer to AFBI’s Fruit Cocktail Competition entered by almost 700 people at this years Balmoral Show was:
After a relatively slow start, grass growth has improved dramatically since mid-April, with the GrassCheck project indicating that growth will soon be at its peak in most areas of Northern Ireland. However, unsettled weather conditions through March and April have resulted in some herds being re-housed either by night, or day and night, while other herds have still not been turned out at all. The result is a surplus of grass on the grazing platform on these farms, with these surpluses likely to increase further given current and predicted growth rates.
Scientific collaboration between the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Teagasc has been formally recognised with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations.
There has been a great deal of concern relating to the apparent decline of honeybees across Europe. In the US, a phenomena known as Colony Collapse Disorder has caused considerable bee losses and much distress to beekeepers especially as the direct cause is not yet known.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) today held the annual George Scott Robertson Memorial Lecture at its Headquarters at Newforge. The annual lecture, named in memory of the founder of the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland at Hillsborough, Co. Down was delivered this year by Dr Frank O’Mara, Research Director of Teagasc on the subject of “EU Agri-Food Foresight and implications for R&D”.
In recent months there has been increased interest in the use of ground limestone in rations for growing and finishing cattle with substantial improvements in animal performance being reported in response to the inclusion of ground limestone in the diet. The purpose of this article is to review existing scientific knowledge on the effect of limestone in ruminant diets.
Getting the variety choice correct is always an important first step no matter what crop you are growing or where you are growing it. When it comes to forage maize production in Northern Ireland, however, variety choice becomes a critical decision. Given that growing conditions are so marginal for maize, using a variety that has not proven itself under local conditions is a considerable risk. This is not a risk worth taking given the wide range of proven varieties on the DARD Recommended List.
Following a rather wet and cold winter, the increasing day length and higher temperatures in mid-February provided the first signs of the new grass growing season, and allowed field work to commence on many farms. However, early March has seen a return to wet and cold conditions, and ground conditions are difficult again in many places. A further feature of spring 2009 has been the disappointing milk price forecasts, which are forcing many farmers to re-examine their cost structure, and in particular, options to reduce feed costs. Making more effective use of grazed grass should be a key priority this summer, beginning with the early inclusion of grass into the diet this spring
AFBI Loughgall recently hosted a study tour for horticulturalists,
lecturers,and government officers concerned with the development of rhubarb and other horticultural
production in the Magallanes Region ( very south) of Chile. The visit was organised by Dr. Rodrigo Olave
& Dr. Jim McAdam, AFBI
A £10,000 reward is being offered by the beef industry for information resulting in the successful return of nineteen pregnant Stabiliser heifers stolen from a cattle house at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Deerpark Farm, AFBI Loughgall, County Armagh between midnight and 4.30 am on Friday 20 February 2009.
Effect of zero N fertilizer input on grass growth and animal performance
Research undertaken at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Hillsborough) (Table 1) has demonstrated that, relative to grass swards receiving 200 kg N per hectare, grass swards receiving zero nitrogen:
Reducing fertilizer input will reduce animal output per hectare
The new DARD Potato Varieties Booklet for 2009 has been recently published by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. It has been compiled by the potato team at AFBI Crossnacreevy, Plant Testing Station. Seventy-seven maincrop, 23 second early and 14 first early varieties currently either commonly grown or which have completed trials are fully described. A further 18 varieties still undergoing testing are also described but data on the characteristics of these varieties is still limited.
The new DARD Cereal Recommended List has been prepared by AFBI Crossnacreevy
and is now available.
During a recent visit to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Hillsborough site, Jim Nicholson MEP highlighted the important role of local research in underpinning the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.
With current high costs and low returns from beef production, suckler producers and beef finishers need to re-evaluate their production systems and examine methods by which output and efficiency can be improved, while at the same time controlling or reducing production costs. Finishing male cattle from the suckler herd as bulls offers an opportunity to increase returns from beef production relative to steers, bearing in mind the ability of bulls to grow faster, utilise food more efficiently and produce leaner carcasses than steers.
Potatoes ARE good for you! Under recent EU regulation tightening up on the nutritional and health claims which can be made about food, the following claims for potatoes have been approved by the British Nutrition Foundation: