Meet the Scientist - Dr David Patterson

Date published: 21 December 2018

Area of Expertise:

David graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in Agriculture and also obtained a PhD on grass/clover sward dynamics.

David then worked for QUB as the Turfgrass Breeder at Loughgall before taking up a Grassland Technologist post at Greenmount College. After working in various roles within DANI, DARD and then DAERA I finally came ‘back to grass’ in January 2018 to take up the post of AFBI Grassland Agronomist based at Hillsborough.

Currently David has a number of projects underway: defoliation management of over-wintered silage swards; a review of the impact of flooding on grassland; the uptake of fertiliser N within multi-cut silage systems; effect of autumn defoliation on silage yield & quality; with some others projects still at the proposal stage. I’m also helping to develop an AFBI Grassland Research strategy.

  • I’m often asked why the interest in grass?
    The only answer I can come up with is that it never fails to surprise – just when you think you’ve got it figured out some new findings emerge that challenge your pre-formed notions and theories! Also farmers love to ‘talk grass’ whether it’s about seeds and varieties, aspects of sward management, reseeding, yields or animal performance issues. Over the years I have always enjoyed this interaction with the industry and also in helping to convert research findings and technical advances into adoption on farm.
  • What do you enjoy about your post in AFBI?
    What I really enjoy about the Agronomy post is the interaction with other colleagues at Hillsborough, Loughgall and Crossnacreevy  - there are so many other grass fanatics that never get tired of talking grass!  Perhaps that’s what I missed most in my ‘extended sabbatical’ years away from grassland research.
  • What do you do outside of work?
    Outside of work our two teenage daughters keep us both pretty busy, we’re involved with the Church, and then there are some sheep to look after, we also have Bella the Alpaca, Tilly the black Labrador and Laika the Golden Retriever. And yes, at some point I would love to finish the garden, the pond, the patio, the dry stone walls ....
  • What was the most exciting place you have ever been to
    Way back in 1986 I spent a summer semester in the States in my middle year at university. Despite many international trips and holidays since then it was probably the most exciting and challenging of all.  I worked for the USDA Pasture Research Lab in Penn State University and stayed in the Delta Theta Sigma fraternity for the summer. It was probably the first time I had travelled away from home for any length of time.  The grassland research work I was involved in spurred me on to do a PhD and I got to experience the ‘full on’ American culture which was great! 
  • Do you have any sporting interests?
    Yes, I really enjoy following local and international rugby. I played at school level (and still regret not keeping on playing for longer) but nowadays I’m just another ‘armchair expert’!

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