A new research programme aimed at improving efficiency in nitrogen fertiliser use and soil health on Irish farms has been launched this week.
Future Soils is being spearheaded by Grassland Agro, Teagasc and University College Cork (UCC).
Grassland Agro, via the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)-funded VistaMilk Research Centre, will support two PhD students.
Both students will complete their PhDs in agricultural science at UCC and conduct research at Teagasc’s dairy research centre of excellence at Moorepark and its environmental centre of excellence at Johnstown Castle.
Managing director of Grassland Agro Liam Woulfe said that they are acutely aware of the challenges ahead for the Irish agri industry and that chemical fertiliser nitrogen use on Irish farms is becoming increasingly restricted.
"Strategic use of fertiliser inputs is therefore the future and we believe this must be underpinned by science. We are pleased to invest in this research and the next generation of agri-research scientists," he said.
Head of grassland science at Teagasc Professor Michael O’Donovan stated: “This is a unique project for grassland production and soil science.
"It will examine the structural, chemical and biological properties of Irish soils to determine how the soil can be harnessed to sustain sward dry matter production despite reduced chemical nitrogen fertiliser use; the outcomes of the research will be impactful for years to come."
Professor of agricultural science at UCC and academic programme director Professor Frank Buckley said that the programme will bring precision to on-farm nitrogen fertiliser management through tailored solutions that will support enhanced environmentally and economically sustainable nutrient use on Irish farms.
"We at UCC are delighted to partner with Grassland Agro and Teagasc on this innovative post-graduate programme and look forward to welcoming two new PhD students to our growing repertoire of agricultural research students at UCC," he said.