The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Plant Testing Station at Crossnacreevy has been officially recognised by the European Union for its work in registering new varieties of ryegrasses and clovers.
Two University students have been gaining valuable experience, working in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Newforge, alongside two of the most experienced and respected scientists in their field.
Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and six partner organisations including the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, recently launched the Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland Hydrographic Survey (INIS Hydro) project at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office. INIS Hydro, which receives £3.2 million from the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, will produce a standardised hydrographic survey specification and accurate high-resolution bathymetric datasets for seven important seabed areas to the east of Ireland/Northern Ireland and off the west coast of Scotland. A total of 1400 km2 will be surveyed by the partner organisation’s research vessels fitted with multibeam sonar technology.
We hope that everyone in grassland farming is very familiar with the dark green DARD Recommended List booklets that come out every summer. Each year they give the latest performance information on the best grass and clover varieties for Northern Ireland farms.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) winter barley variety trials have been harvested from three locations (Limavady, Hillsborough and Downpatrick) with the mean yield of all varieties in trial being 9.8 t per ha, 0.9 t per ha lower than the mean yield of trials in 2010. The 2-row KWS Cassia and Retriever have maintained their excellent yields, with newcomers Florentine, California and Matros challenging their lead on the yield tables. In contrast, Saffron’s treated yields have declined somewhat 2011. The 6-row KWS Meridian has had, on average, an excellent first year in Northern Ireland Recommended List trials, out-yielding Pelican by 11% although its yield was variable depending on location. The 6-row hybrid Volume is still, on average, the highest yielding of all varieties.
The Fane Valley Sales and Technical team recently visited the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) at Hillsborough for an update on current dairy research programmes. During the visit the AFBI dairy research team outlined a number of research programmes, each designed to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of milk production in Northern Ireland.
Large economic differences exist when feed is offered to pigs in either meal or pellet form and when diets are either finely or coarsely ground. This is one of the main findings from a large trial recently completed by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough through the research consortium of John Thompson and Sons Ltd, Devenish Nutrition Ltd and Preferred Capital Management (PCM) with co funding from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Testing carried out by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute’s (AFBI) Veterinary Sciences Division (VSD) has shown that botulism incidents continue to occur in cattle. A single case in sheep has recently been diagnosed. Investigations by VSD have provided strong circumstantial evidence that broiler litter is a risk factor for many of these outbreaks. AFBI continue to provide ongoing advice to herdowners and private veterinary practitioners on methods to diagnose and control the disease.
A new guidance booklet for the Nitrates Action Programme 2011-2014 will be published shortly. Within it pig farmers will notice that the figures for nitrogen excretion in manure from sows and pigs is lower compared with the previous action programme (2006). In practice this means that less land is required to spread pig slurry. This change has come as a result of work conducted at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Hillsborough through the research consortium of AFBI, Devenish Nutrition Ltd, John Thompson and Sons Ltd and Preferred Capital Management (PCM), with additional funding from DARD. CAFRE Greenmount pig technologists were also involved in ensuring translation of the research findings into the revised values.
Over the past two years the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough has digested about 15 thousand tonnes of dairy cow slurry in its anaerobic digester, which has produced about 217 thousand cubic meters of biogas. This biogas has been a tremendous source of renewable energy and has been burnt to produce electricity and heat for use at the Hillsborough site.
The dairy industry in Northern Ireland faces growing uncertainty in several spheres including, subsidy payment levels and compliance conditions, global competition, price variability, consumer demand, carbon footprints, animal welfare, food safety, and the environment. Farmers can, nevertheless, reduce their exposure to these uncertainties by adopting production systems that are financially robust over a wide range of possible circumstances. This article summarises the results produced by a profit maximizing whole-farm economic model that was employed to identify financially optimal milk production systems for a typical Northern Ireland farm under varying market conditions. The systems assessed range from lower yielding New Zealand type systems based on grazed grass to very high yielding North American type systems based on concentrates and conserved forage. The research was funded by AgriSearch and DARD.
Does crossbreeding have a role within the Northern Ireland dairy sector? This question is currently being addressed in a series of studies being undertaken by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough, with the research funded jointly by AgriSearch and DARD. Results presented in Table 1 are from a study comparing the performance of spring calving Jersey x Holstein crossbred cows and pure Holstein cows when offered approximately 1.0 t concentrate per year.
Miscanthus, also known as Elephant Grass, is continuing to show considerable potential as a biomass crop in Northern Ireland trials being conducted by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) at Hillsborough and Loughgall.
Lameness can significantly cut productivity and increase costs in sheep flocks, and therefore it is important to know the level and the causes within flocks, writes Marijntje Speijers, AFBI Hillsborough.
The official launch of the ANSWER project took place in Belfast City Hall on Friday 13th May. The ANSWER project is part funded by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG IVA Cross-border Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
At the Balmoral Show this year, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) showcased research which has assisted in the development of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) Rural White Paper Action Plan and also promoted the AFBI Cattle Health Scheme, designed to protect herds from the ravages of disease through testing, certification and employment of practical on farm biosecurity.
Newly appointed Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill this week visited the Environmental and Renewable Energy Centre at AFBI Hillsborough where she was given a guided tour of the facilities.
While grazed grass, the cheapest feed available, has the potential to support daily milk yields of 25 to 28 litres per cow per day in April/May, many herds struggle to achieve this level of performance. However, in view of the significant increase in the price of concentrates, which looks set to continue in the immediate future, optimising the use of grazed grass in the diet of dairy cows should be a key target during 2011. In addition, as fertiliser prices look set to be approximately £100 per t higher than during 2010, it is critical that grass which is grown is utilised efficiently. This article examines a number of key measurements and targets, which if achieved, will allow you to make better use of one of the most valuable resources on your farm.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute’s Environment and Renewable Energy Centre (EREC) which opened in January 2009, has developed a comprehensive research programme funded by DARD which is providing important data to underpin the development of renewables in the agri-food sector. In carrying out this research the EREC has provided much of the heating and a proportion of the electricity required for the Hillsborough site from biomass crops and animal manure.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Veterinary Sciences Division wishes to advise sheep farmers of the likely risk of Nematodirus worm infection in young lambs this spring.
The Department of Agriculture recently announced the appointments of Hilary McCartan and Bob McCann to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Board.
This survey is important for beekeepers because it aims to assess the status and management of bee diseases across Northern Ireland. At a time when pollinator numbers seem to be in decline, validated baseline data are essential to inform scientists, policymakers and beekeepers themselves about the threats to their industry and their bees.
Buthaina Abdullah Mohammed Al-Haddabi, Royal Court Affairs Laboratory, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, was the first trainee for the new analytical course offered by Food Chemistry Branch, AFBI Newforge.
Potato flea beetles (Epitrix spp.) are native to North America and can cause serious damage to potato crops. The adults feed on foliage producing characteristic “shot-hole” appearance to leaves, while larvae feed on roots and tubers (Fig. 1). It is this larval damage to the tubers that has a major impact on the appearance and quality of potatoes, which may render them unmarketable.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) conducts cereal variety trials in a number of locations throughout Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA). The information from these trials is used to produce the DARD Recommended Lists of Cereal Varieties for Northern Ireland. In this article the yield and key agronomic characteristics of recommended spring cereal varieties in Northern Ireland for 2011 are described.
Perennial ryegrass varieties bred by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) at Loughgall in Co Armagh are very widely used on farms in Northern Ireland as farmers appreciate the benefits of using grasses which have been bred for local conditions. But its not just local farmers which are convinced of the value of AFBI grasses, as recent market statistics from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Dublin show that 30% of the forage perennial seed straights imported into the Republic last year was of AFBI–bred varieties.
It is well known that Northern Ireland is a marginal area for growing maize and so attention to detail is vital to success. Everything from seed bed preparation to harvest timing must be well managed and based on varieties that are capable of coping with less than optimal conditions.
If maize silage is to be a major contributor to winter feeding in Northern Ireland, it can’t be more unpredictable than other forages. So every maize grower wants to know the risks of growing the crop. Following a couple of tricky growing years the local maize acreage has fallen back slightly, to 2006 levels. It seems that some farmers have decided that winter forage is more reliably made by other means. So how reliable is locally grown maize?
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will host a meeting of fish health experts from Ireland, Norway, Scotland, USA and Chile on 23 and 24 March 2011 at its Newforge Lane headquarters. This will be the 11th meeting of the Pancreas Disease Trination Forum which was established in 2005 to bring together aquaculture companies, universities, veterinary institutes, veterinary practitioners, official veterinary services, fish health biologists, and pharmaceutical and feed companies to share experiences and rapidly disseminate the results of research on practical solutions to Pancreas Disease (PD) of salmon.
Mr Seán Hogan, Chair of the AFBI Board, has announced the appointment of Dr Seamus Kennedy as Chief Executive Officer of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). Dr Kennedy has been acting CEO of AFBI since December 2009 and was appointed as a Deputy Chief Executive Officer on formation of the institute in April 2006. Previously he was a senior veterinary research officer in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Veterinary Sciences Division.
Feed costs may be reduced by lowering dietary crude protein (CP) content but it is essential that the “ideal protein” content of a diet is maintained and this requires supplementation with expensive amino acids. It is also crucial to ensure that sufficient CP is supplied to drive efficient growth. “Ideal protein” is the provision of essential amino acids in exactly the proportions required by the pig and as lysine is the most limiting amino acid in pig diets, other amino acids are supplied in proportion to lysine. Previous work at AFBI Hillsborough has established that pigs between 30-40 kg require at least 0.98% total lysine but more research is needed to define the lysine requirements of older pigs. Reducing the CP and lysine content (and subsequently the content of other amino acids) has the potential to lower feed costs and reduce nitrogen excretion to the environment. However, this is not a sustainable practice if pig performance is adversely affected. Therefore, the aim of this research was to examine the effect of offering diets differing in lysine and CP content on the performance of finishing pigs.
Salmonella is an important cause of foodborne disease in humans with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Salmonella can be carried by a wide range of wild and farm animals, and more recently have also been associated with plant products. As pigs can be infected with Salmonella, but show no signs of illness, they have the potential to give rise to contaminated pork. However, studies have shown that the occurrence of Salmonella on pork products from Northern Ireland (NI) is low, as strict hygiene regulations are followed. Nevertheless, the industry recognises that continued vigilance is required to maintain the current safety of NI pork. Therefore, the Department of Agriculture for Rural Development (DARD), Pig Regen Ltd. and the Ulster Pork and Bacon Forum have jointly funded the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to investigate means to further reduce the risk of Salmonella contamination of pork products through an integrated whole-chain approach throughout production and pig processing systems.
During early lactation high yielding dairy cows are unable to consume sufficient food to support high levels of milk production. As a result the cow utilises her own body reserves for milk production and is said to be in negative energy balance. However, prolonged periods of negative energy balance are detrimental to production, health, and reproductive performance, and as such we should try to reduce the level of negative energy balance that cows experience.
An area of work which has expanded in AFBI in recent years is the identification of poisonous plants in the stomach contents of animals submitted for post mortem examination at the Institue’s Veterinary Sciences Division laboratories at Stormont and Omagh (68 samples were received over the years 2008 – 10).
UK Farming Union Climate Change Representatives recently visited the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough for an update on research which is being undertaken to underpin livestock systems with lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The visit included a tour of the AFBI research facilities where GHG emissions from dairy and beef cattle are being studied.
Dr Joan Moss, Principal Agricultural Economist in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) has recently appeared as an expert witness before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee at Westminster. The Committee is currently holding an enquiry into the potential impact of the post 2013 reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy on the UK agri-food industry.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots and the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew today launched a ground-breaking report entitled ‘Northern Ireland State of the Seas’.
Although each grass growing season provides its own unique challenges, 2010 will be remembered by many as an excellent year for growing and grazing grass, with many herds continuing to graze until late October. Now that the grazing season is complete, it is an opportunity to reflect on the season’s grass growth as recorded by GrassCheck. This AgriSearch and DARD funded project recorded grass growth at six sites throughout 2010, namely Antrim, Aghadowey, Hillsborough, Portaferry, Fintona and Tempo.
It is well established that feeding and management of Holstein-Friesian heifers should be geared around achieving a live weight at first calving of 540-580 kg at 24 months of age. To achieve this target, feeding management must ensure that heifers reach target live weights for breeding at 13.5-15 months of age.
Improved varieties and quality seed are vital for productive crop production. Breeders, seed merchants and testing organisations all play a role in ensuring that farmers are provided with the most appropriate varieties for use in Northern Ireland. The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Crossnacreevy, with its extensive variety evaluation programmes, produces and provides relevant up-to-date information on varieties of cereals, potatoes, grass, clover and maize.