News and Views - Spring 2019

New Chair of AFBI Announced

Mr Colin Coffey has been announced as the new Chair of AFBI with effect from 1st April 2019. A Chartered Director and Fellow of the Institute of Directors with extensive experience in corporate governance, Colin has held a number of senior management posts within the NI agri-food industry.

Read more

AFBI Science on display at the Balmoral Show

AFBI brought science to life at the Balmoral Show which was held from 15-18 May.  Over the 4 days of the show AFBI highlighted  their work which is leading improvements in the agri-food industry, protecting animal, plant and human health and enhancing the natural and marine environment.  The interactive stand showed visitors of all ages how AFBI science is making a difference. The first glimpse of AFBI's new brand image was also unveiled which you will see more of as this year progresses.

See here for some images from the show

Responsive Research from AFBI/QUB Partnership

With more food needed to feed the world in the next 50 years than was needed over the last 500 years, collaboration and the adoption of new technologies across the agri-food chain is more vital than ever. This was the message delivered by Professor Nigel Scollan at a breakfast briefing at the Balmoral Show, marking the 1st anniversary of the partnership between AFBI and QUB.

Read more

Excellent turnout at Breeding for Performance Roadshow

Around 200 farmers attended the recent “Breeding for Performance” roadshows at Ballymena and Clogher Livestock Markets organised by AFBI, AgriSearch, CAFRE and LMC.  Speakers at the events included Dr Francis Lively (AFBI), Dr Steven Johnston (CAFRE), Dr Barry McInerney (AFBI) and Professor David Kenny (Teagasc).

Read more

Focus on Potash and Sulphur this Spring to Optimise Grass Growth

Increased costs of NPK fertiliser have caused many farmers to switch to straight nitrogen, but in some situations this has resulted in significant reductions in grass production. Such reductions have often been attributed to phosphorus (P) deficiency, whereas in fact they have almost certainly been due to either potash (K) or sulphur (S) deficiency. Proper management of K and S inputs to grassland is essential, particularly in spring, to ensure optimal grass production and to minimise risk to animal health.

Read more

AFBI Food Research Branch welcome CAFRE Students

AFBI-Food Research Branch recently hosted Year 2 students undertaking the CAFRE Food Technology and Food Design and Nutrition degree courses.  Through this engagement Food Research Branch provided lectures on flavours and off-flavours in foods and the application of sensory methods followed by three practical demonstrations of sensory and flavour methods.

AFBI issues Nematodirus Warning - Spring 2019

AFBI issued a warning earlier in the Spring to NI sheep farmers that the risk period for Nemotodirus worm infection in young lambs was approaching. Nematodirus infection results from the ingestion of large numbers of infective worm larvae present on contaminated pasture. Lambs grazing the same pasture in the previous year act as the source of this contamination.

Read more

Major International Workshop comes to Northern Ireland in 2019

Professor Nicolae Corcionivoschi (AFBI) has recently led a successful bid for Belfast to host the 20th International Workshop on Campylobacter, Helicobacter and related organisms (CHRO) in 2019 and to place AFBI at the core of the organisation of this prestigious scientific event.

Read more

AFBI Display "Glass Eels" at Castle Espie

Robert Rosell and Warren Campbell of Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems Branch (FAEB) held a public display on glass eels at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre, Castle Espie, on 23 March. The eels duly arrived and hundreds were on display in the tanks before release to the ponds. 

Read more

Launch of AFBI Honey Bee Husbandry Survey

The 2019 AFBI honey bee husbandry survey was launched in March. This annual survey has been undertaken by AFBI since 2009. It is in the form of a questionnaire asking for information about beekeeping husbandry practices, colony losses and honey bee diseases and pests.

Read more

Helping the bees and butterflies to avoid 'Insectageddon'

Recent headlines have suggested an ‘insectageddon’, where several scientific studies have shown a substantial and worrying decline in insect abundance and hence decline in biodiversity which support many ecosystems in NI's natural capita. To look at some of these issues from a local context, AFBI staff convened a one-day meeting on “Invertebrate Conservation and Landscape Management in Ireland - Restoring Biodiversity in the Irish Landscape” in conjunction with the Royal Entomological Society and Buglife.

Read more

AFBI makes Research Exchange Visit to New Zealand

Dr Richard O’Hanlon of Grassland and Plant Sciences Branch completed a short visiting research exchange to New Zealand funded by a European COST action. Richard spent 3 weeks working in the Forest Research Institute Scion, in Rotorua. While there he compared the UK and New Zealand contingency plans for pitch canker of pine, a disease caused by a pathogenic fungus.

Read here

AFBI Lunchtime Seminars

Two AFBI Lunchtime Seminars were held in March and May.

  • The March Lunchtime Seminar was given by Dr Deborah Cox (Grassland and Plant Sciences Branch).  The lecture was entitled “Molecular Mechanisms of Environmental Protection”.
    Presentation can be viewed HERE
  • The May Seminar was given by Dr Dario Fornara (Agri-Environment Branch).  The lecture was entitled "Long-term effects of nutrient fertilisation on grassland phosphorus budget”.

The next scheduled seminar will be held in September.  Keep an eye on the AFBI website and Twitter page for further information.

AFBI PhD students help launch DAERA’s 2019 Postgraduate Research Competition

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) recently launched the annual Postgraduate Studentship competition for 2019. New AFBI PhD student, Kerry McIlwaine and former PhD student, Jonathan Blair, helped DAERA’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Denis McMahon, with the launch.

Read more

Long-service awards presented to dedicated AFBI staff

Long-service awards were recently presented to a number of past AFBI staff members who had achieved 30 years+ service each.

  • Pictured L-R Dr Stanley McDowell (AFBI CEO), Dr Trevor Gililand, Mr Sidney Gibson, Dr Armstrong Hewitt and Mr Colm McKenna (AFBI Chairman).
  • Pictured L-R Dr Elizabeth Magowan (AFBI DCEO), Mr David Johnston, Professor Jim McAdam, Mr Colm McKenna (AFBI Chairman), Mr William Morrison, Mr Desmond Irwin and Dr Stanley McDowell (AFBI CEO).

Meet the AFBI Scientist .... 

This month Dr Barry McInerney, Disease, Surveillance & Investigations Branch talks about his role in AFBI.  Dr McInerney took up his role in AFBI in 2018.  He has particular interests in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mastitis in dairy cattle and the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of parasitic disease in production animals, particularly in light of current concerns regarding the development of anthelmintic resistance.

Read more

Job Opportunities in AFBI

AFBI currently has one job vacancy which can be viewed on the Northern Ireland Civil Service Recruitment Website

  • Higher Scientific Officer - Virus Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory


AFBI are partners in a Sea Angling Diary Project run by DEFRA and Anglers are needed to take part to help demonstrate the impact of sea angling in Northern Ireland.

Read more