Researchers at Maynooth University have received Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding of €243,000 for a farm sustainability project.

The project - DNet4SSoils - aims to improve the long-term health of soils in the context of a changing climate and support low-input agriculture, reducing farmers’ need for fertiliser.

Over the next 18 months, the Maynooth University team will work with the Irish Organic Association to create a new low-cost technology platform that will enable farmers to evaluate their land in more detail than currently possible.

Dr Conor Meade from Maynooth's department of biology, who is leading the project, noted the need to future-proof our soils in the face of climate change.

Dual challenge

“By the middle of this century, Irish farmers will face the dual challenge of drought due to climate change and the need to move toward low-fertiliser farming.

"This presents an acute pressure point for Irish agriculture. Working with the most important resource on every farm - the soil - our project aims to simplify the process of identifying ideal soil and crop matches at a local level, based on local farming expertise and focused on building climate resilience into farm practice," he said.

Professor Gerard Lacey from the department of electronic engineering and co-lead on the project said that developing a soil and crop evaluation tool will facilitate data-driven farm-based decision making and reduce soil management and crop selection risks.


One of 25 teams competing in the final two national challenges, the Maynooth University team will compete in the Future Food Systems Challenge that gives academic research teams a unique opportunity to contribute to Ireland’s efforts in creating sustainable, productive and resilient food systems.

Speaking at the launch of the fund, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD said: "This kind of solutions-driven research will help us to tackle the big societal changes we face as we become a green and digital country, and I am already looking forward to the years ahead as we see the projects advance.”