In the current economic climate of increasing fertilizer, fuel and feed costs it is imperative that farmers are given products which have been well tried and tested. This is especially important when choosing new grasses for reseeding as swards will often be exposed to extreme environmental conditions and expected to deliver high yields for up to 10 years. At the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Loughgall site, the Forage Grass breeding programme continues to breed new grass locally adapted varieties which are productive and persistent and which can be relied upon to give consistent performance. This breeding takes place in cooperation with our partner Barenbrug. An extensive portfolio of AFBI –bred perennial ryegrass and hybrid ryegrass varieties is now available through partner Barenbrug UK Ltd.
This year has proven another busy year for visiting groups at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Hillsborough. Over 50 groups have visited this year to see at first hand the research and development programmes on sustainable livestock and renewable energy systems. In recent weeks the dairy research programme has been the focus of two visiting group visits.
Researchers from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) recently welcomed the Grounds Maintenance Team from the Etihad Stadium, home of current Premier League Champions, Manchester City.
At the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), at Loughgall, the grass breeding programme develops new forage grasses which are high yielding and persistent under local conditions. An extensive portfolio of varieties to suit all conditions is available through Barenbrug UK Ltd, and these are widely used on local farms.
The second All-island Animal Disease Surveillance Report has recently been published. It was prepared by the veterinary diagnostic laboratories operated by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland, and by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Marine Institute in Ireland. Production of the report supports the development of co-operation between DARD and DAFM’s official laboratories, which is one of the actions agreed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and DAFM to help deliver the All-island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.
The impact of the weather on grazing conditions during the past summer and autumn has dominated discussions amongst grassland farmers across the country, with even the best grassland managers tested by the conditions. While the highs and lows of the grazing season have already been comprehensively documented within the weekly bulletins produced within the AgriSearch and DARD funded GrassCheck project, with grazing now complete on the majority of farms this is a good time to review what has been widely regarded as one of the most challenging grazing seasons in recent memory.
Each year in NI, the onset of autumn marks the beginning of the ‘fluke season’, with death and debility affecting sheep on farms across the province, as liver fluke burdens become established in animals that have grazed on pasture contaminated with the infective metacercarial cysts.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) held a CPD event on the AFBI Cattle Health Scheme which was attended by nearly 60 vets. The event was held at AFBI Hillsborough on the 24th October and was organised by the AFBI Cattle Health Scheme team from AFBI Stormont. The Scheme provides programmes for four economically important diseases of cattle – Bovine Viral diarrhoea (BVD), Johne’s disease, Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) and Leptospirosis.
Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) is an economically important pathogen present in Northern Ireland dairy and beef herds. The disease is widespread, affecting cattle all over the world. Losses may be associated with a wide range of reproductive effects, including conception failure and abortion, suppression of the immune system in calves resulting in increased levels of pneumonia and diarrhoea, reduced milk yields and increased somatic cell counts. Deaths of cattle may also occur from mucosal disease, which is characterised by lameness, scour and ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract.
Strategies to manage sow lactation feed intake to maximize litter performance and the ability to reduce feed costs through dietary factors were key points of discussion at a recent ‘Pig Seminar to Improve Sustainability’. The seminar was organised by and held at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough, with lunch being sponsored by the Ulster Pork and Bacon Forum. Representatives from the pig industry in Northern Ireland and further afield received much information with regard to recent advances in pig research from scientists working at AFBI, Teagasc and Queen’s University Belfast.
In 2007 a review of inshore fisheries in Northern Ireland highlighted the fact that “the social and economic contribution of sea angling to Northern Ireland is not known and as a result, there is a lack of government support and investment in this sector. There is also a scarcity of data on sea angling in Northern Ireland”.
The granting of PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status under European law to Comber potatoes early this year was a welcome boost for early potato growers in the Comber area. They and early potato growers elsewhere in Northern Ireland have a relatively limited choice of varieties, both old and new, that can be grown as First Earlies. Home Guard is the traditional variety but Casablanca is a new variety being used by pre-packers in N Ireland. British Queen, whilst not strictly a First Early variety, is also grown for this market in N Ireland. Meanwhile in Great Britain, Casablanca is only the 5th most popular first early variety after Premiere, Accord, Maris Bard and Amora.
The winter meeting of the Northern Ireland Forum of Business Continutity Institute (BCI) was held at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Veterinary Sciences Division, Stormont. Attendees heard presentations from Dr Eileen Stewart, Head of AFBI’s Emergency Planning, Safety and Estate Branch and Mr Stephen Cross, a Senior Consultant from the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel, on planning and delivery of Business Continuity and Incident Management within the Institute.
It is generally accepted that the transition from the dry period to lactation is the most traumatic stage in the annual cycle of the dairy cow. Nutrition during the dry period should aim to prepare the dairy cow for the dramatic increase in milk production in early lactation, whilst minimising the risk of metabolic problems and infectious diseases post calving. However, many complex dry cow feeding strategies have been advocated, and this has created much confusion.
Research to underpin land-based renewable energy systems is a major work area undertaken at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). The Environment and Renewable Energy Centre (EREC) at AFBI Hillsborough, opened in January 2009, coordinates the research being conducted across AFBI sites in areas relevant to renewable energy. In doing so, the EREC assists the agri-food industry in maximising the potential of renewable energy and supports technology transfer activities.
An international group of students has assembled in the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to carry out research on using Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow for the bioremediation of effluents, leachates and biosolids. Three of the students are funded by the ANSWER (Agricultural Need of Sustainable Willow Effluent Recycling) project and the fourth by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARDNI).
Staff at the Veterinary Sciences Division (VSD) of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), using a forecasting system based on rainfall data, have predicted that the overall risk of liver fluke infection during this autumn and winter in Northern Ireland will be very high. A very high risk is predicted because of the high rainfall levels in June, July and August, which provided ideal conditions for extensive multiplication of the snail intermediate host Galba truncatula. Furthermore, the relatively mild and frost-free conditions experienced during the winter of 2011-12 probably failed to ‘clean’ the pastures of over-wintering fluke eggs, infective metacercaria larvae and infected snails, all of which contribute to early-season infection in out-wintered sheep , and in cattle at turn-out. A high level of pasture contamination by fluke eggs from early-season infections tends to exacerbate late-season acute fluke infection levels.
AFBI once again promoted services at the 81st National Ploughing Championships, this time in New Ross, Co Wexford. This event is Europe’s largest outdoor agricultural trade exhibition with 1,100 exhibitors, drawing a crowd of up to 187.000 people from the 25th to the 27th September.
Scientists from the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Belfast have been looking at new ways of keeping foods fresher, tastier, safer and nutritious for longer. One of their most exciting projects is using very high pressure as a food preservation method.
In recognition of the highly significant contribution being made to the dairy farming industry by the DAIRYMAN INTERREG project, Michelle O’Neill, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, invited members of the international DAIRYMAN project team plus local dairy industry stakeholders to a reception and dinner at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, on Thursday 20th September.
On the 18th, 19th and 20th of September, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) hosted the 7th General Meeting and associated working groups of the prestigious DAIRYMAN project. Scientists, dairying advisors and industry stakeholders from 10 regions of North West Europe met in Belfast for 3-days of meetings to progress this high profile project, which is aimed at improving the economic and environmental sustainability of dairy farming in North West Europe. The project is funded by the European Union, and involves 14 partner organizations, including AFBI assisted by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), with Wageningen University in the Netherlands as the Lead Partner.
Maize crops across Northern Ireland are currently suffering from the continuing poor conditions that have perpetuated throughout this growing season and the vast majority of crops are much less mature than is normal at this stage in the year. In addition crops in some areas are becoming heavily infested with eye spot disease, Aureobasidium zeae (previously Kabatiella zeae), and growers may be concerned about how best to manage this situation.
Beekeepers in Northern Ireland are facing a new problem. The dreaded varroa mite is becoming resistant to the chemicals used to control it. Scientists at the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) have found parasitic varroa mites that are resistant to a class of mite-killing chemicals called pyrethroids.
University student Emma Walker from Stoneyford, County Antrim has been gaining valuable work experience in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Newforge.
It can’t be much fun being an earthworm, in the dark, underground eating dirt, dodging the early bird. And now, they have to contend with the ‘New Zealand flatworm’. This antipodean invader has been on our shores since the early 1960s and its taste for earthworm flesh is well-known. Now however, scientists writing in the journal Biological Invasions* have exposed the full impact of the flatworm on our earthworms.
Since 2008, staff from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) have been carrying out habitat monitoring of the heather moorland at Greenmount Hill Farm, Glenwherry, Co. Antrim.
There is only one week left to book your place at the 25k Award Dinner. We are delighted to offer you the opportunity to attend this year's 25k Award Dinner, being held on 27th September 2012 at Titanic Belfast.
An increase in the incidence of cattle deaths due to blackleg has been reported in Scotland this year. This may be due to soil disturbances associated with the unusually wet weather and flooding. Although there has been no increase in the number of cases of blackleg confirmed by AFBI’s Veterinary Sciences Division has this year, blackleg is a common disease of cattle and sheep in Northern Ireland and farmers are advised to protect their livestock by the use of vaccination.
Professor Serwan Baban, the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources in Kurdistan, Iraq, recently visited the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to discuss the role AFBI could play in providing scientific support to his Ministry.
The Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) remains prepared to assist the local industry in response to the Schmallenberg virus (SBV) outbreak which has spread across northern Europe, including Great Britain.
Blight has been widespread in potato crops this year and so growers need to be alert to the risk of tuber infection. The cold, wet spring has resulted in many crops being late planted, and slow to mature; growing these on into the autumn extends the period when they are at risk. Phytophthora infestans sporangia produced on blighted potato stems and leaves are washed into the soil by rain where they release motile zoospores which can infect the tubers. This process is encouraged when soils are saturated by high rainfall. Symptoms on lower leaves and stems may not be obvious as crops begin to senesce, but present a big risk to the developing tubers.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and CAFRE, Greenmount Campus have issued a further potato blight warning. Infection Periods were recorded between 12th and 14th August across Northern Ireland.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and CAFRE, Greenmount Campus have issued a further potato blight warning. Infection Periods were recorded from 17th to 18th and 23rd to 24th July across Northern Ireland. Growers should take every opportunity to protect crops with approved fungicides at the intervals recommended for high risk conditions.
In association with the "Native Species Northern Ireland" event, AFBI entomologists recently provided an interactive demonstration at Belfast Zoo.
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough recently hosted a visit from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Mrs Caroline Spelman MP. Research to underpin sustainable livestock production and land-based renewable energy systems is carried out at AFBI Hillsborough. The visit included a short tour to see the work funded by Defra and the devolved administrations on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from livestock and soils and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD - funded research on bioenergy crops.
The Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in association with the Ulster Immunology Group (UIG) hosted a special lecture entitled “Science Sustainability and Human Wellbeing” on Wednesday 27 June 2012. The lecture was given by Peter Doherty, Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, and was attended by over one hundred delegates from throughout the local medical and veterinary medical, agricultural and governmental sectors.
The Institute of Food Science & Technology recently held its inaugural Undergraduate Student Competition, at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Belfast.