Hot on the heels of the establishment of the Oats Ireland Forum last week, the crop is now set to benefit from a €2.7m research investment.
The project, announced this week, will involve research in Ireland and Wales as part of a collaboration between University College Dublin, Teagasc, Aberystwyth University and Swansea University.
The ‘Healthy Oats’ project, which is being led by UCD, will receive €2.18m from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Ireland-Wales Cooperation Programme. The balance of the cost is provided by the partners.
The researchers hope to identify varieties that show enhanced performance when grown with low inputs, along with superior nutritional and health benefits
The research will explore the development of oat varieties that are climate-resistant and have high nutritional value and superior health benefits. It also aims to promote the health, economic and environmental benefits of growing oats – a crop which is traditionally suited to the climate of both countries.
Varieties are to be tested under reduced and targeted input systems. The researchers hope to identify varieties that show enhanced performance when grown with low inputs, along with superior nutritional and health benefits.
A successful outcome would help farmers and industry meet the fertiliser and pesticide use challenges of the EU Green Deal.
Speaking at the announcement, project leader Professor Fiona Doohan from UCD, said: “Oats are culturally and historically a very important part of both Irish and Welsh agriculture and there is renewed awareness of their health benefits and the potential of Farm to Fork strategies to deliver innovative, healthy and nutritionally enhanced oat products.
“Work in UCD will test the nutritional and sensory qualities of oat products, while work in Wales will test the health benefits of derivative oat products.”