News and Views - Jan 2017

AFBI's strong showing at the Science Festival

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will play a leading role in the Northern Ireland Science Festival this year, featuring at no fewer than five events! AFBI will feature in the Science Festival roadshows touring Northern Ireland, bringing interactive science displays to Dungannon, Enniskillen, Newry and Coleraine, as well as an open day at our  Hillsborough research farm.

Read more

RUAS Recognition for Long Serving AFBI Sheep Scientist

A member of the AFBI sheep research team, Dessie Irwin, was recently recognised with an award for over 50 years continual service by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) at a special lunch event held in the Members Room at Balmoral recently.

Read more

Introducing Dr Richard O'Hanlon

Dr Richard O’Hanlon recently took up the position of Principal Plant Pathologist in Grassland and Plant Science Branch. A native of Cork City, he has moved to the other end of Ireland to AFBI to investigate and work on plant health threats to the wider environment and horticulture industry - a position which he says is one-of-a-kind on the island of Ireland.

Read more

Innovation in Dairy products - Latest AFBI Research

It is well known that omega-3 fatty acids are essential in our diet to maintain good health, but less than a third of the UK population regularly eat oily fish - the best source of long chain omega-3 fatty acids. Dairy chemistry research in AFBI has focused on increasing the content of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in milk and dairy products with applications at both farm and factory level.

Read more

AFBI welcomes new Virologist

Dr Ken Lemon recently took up the position of Principal Scientific Officer in the Virology Branch of Veterinary Sciences Division. Originally from Belfast, Ken has recently returned to Northern Ireland to undertake work on epizootic and emerging viral threats to our livestock industry and to carry out research on improved methods of control, including work on new virus vaccines.

Read more

AFBI: Breeding better grasses and clovers for local farms

Northern Ireland dairy farmers have a distinct advantage over most of their European counterparts with the ability to grow large quantities of quality grass. Although many farms make maximum use of grass for grazing and silage, grass remains under-exploited in terms of production and utilisation and the production of milk from forage has steadily declined over the last ten years.  Research work at AFBI Hillsborough has shown that for each 1000 litre increase in milk from forage, profit per cow increases by £120.

Read more

AFBI Plant Pathologist judges at BT Young Scientist Awards

Dr Richard O’Hanlon (AFBI’s newly appointed Plant Pathologist) recently attended the BT Young scientist exhibition as a judge in the Biological and Ecological Science category.  Projects were selected from schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland to take part in the exhibition.

Read more

Seminar - The Future of Grass Breeding at AFBI

A lunchtime seminar was recently held in AFBI presented by Dr Gillian Young entitled "The Future of Grass Breeding at AFBI". Grass is the most important resource available to livestock farmers in Northern Ireland. AFBI Loughgall has played a vital part in increasing grassland productivity locally and further afield.

Read more

Meet the Scientist - Professor Robert E. B. Hanna

I graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1970 with a BSc in Zoology, and completed a PhD on ‘Cytological studies on Fasciola hepatica’ at QUB in 1973.   From 1973 until 1976, I was Head of Parasitology in the East African Veterinary Research Organisation, Kenya, working under the British VSO scheme.  Following a year as Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology, Imperial College, London, I joined QUB and worked there until 1989 as a Lecturer in Zoology.

Read more


AFBI is the only designated laboratory based in Northern Ireland for BVD testing.  Since the start of the compulsory phase of the programme, AFBI has been testing around 70% of all Northern Ireland samples.

AFBI has longstanding experience in BVD diagnostics and research. Projects carried out at AFBI over the last 20 years have improved the general understanding of the disease as well as given local insight on the Northern Irish situation. This knowledge has been used to inform the design of the current eradication programme. New technologies have also been explored and studied and are now applied to implement high throughput, fast, reliable and high-quality testing.

AFBI also supports the programme by providing scientific assistance and advice through membership of the BVD Technical Working Group and the Implementation Group. AFBI’s results are reported by qualified and experienced veterinarians who are available for consultation and advice.

For further information contact 028 9052 5749 or email