Teagasc invests €5.2m in next generation of research leaders
Teagasc will invest €5.2m to fund 20 new experienced researchers for 36 months each, over the next five years, writes Enda Carr.

The project is operated by Teagasc, with co-funding from the European Commission. The programme will open on Monday 2 July.

The programme aims to develop the next generation of research leaders to underpin the objectives of Ireland’s Food Wise 2025 strategy launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

What the programme offers

The programme offers applicants the opportunity to conduct their research in an academic, or non-academic organisation of their choice. Applicants also have the opportunity to study abroad for a portion of the programme, if they chose To.

“The fellowship programme represents a unique opportunity to take the most talented early-career researchers and develop them into a cohort which will become the research and innovation leaders of tomorrow," said Minister Creed.

The programme will also address the “leaky pipeline” whereby many promising female researchers do not achieve senior positions. Successful female applicants will be facilitated in finding a senior female researcher to serve as a career mentor.

Speaking about the new programme, Professor Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc, said: “I encourage potential candidates to engage with Teagasc researchers with a view to designing an impactful project which builds on their existing strengths and linking with a suitable host outside of Ireland for the outgoing phase”.

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3,200-year-old cheese discovered in ancient Egyptian tomb
Scientists have been able to identify a previously unknown material found in a tomb in Egypt as cheese, that was made from sheep or goat milk.

Scientists have discovered what they believe to be the oldest-ever sample of cheese in an ancient Egyptian tomb. The discovery, made by a research team based in the Peking University in China, was published by the Analytical Chemistry journal.

Found in a jar within the tomb, the previously unidentified material has now been named as a dairy product obtained by mixing sheep/goat and cow milk. Using biomolecular techniques, the researchers were able to detect the presence of certain peptides, in this case ones that are specific to cheese.

Also detected in the sample was the presence of Brucella melitensis. This is the main cause of brucellosis in humans, and represents a natural pathogen for sheep and goats. Previous to this there have only been indirect signs that the disease was prevalent in ancient Egypt, but the discovery represents the first direct sign.

High-ranking official

The cheese was discovered in the tomb of Ptahmes. He was mayor of Memphis and high-ranking official under Pharaohs Sethi I and Ramses II from 1290 BC to 1213 BC. His tomb was originally unearthed in 1885, but was lost under shifting sands at the end of the 19th century, before reappearing in 2010.

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Listen: "The looming fodder crisis could be a major stressor"
Former rugby international Tony Buckley speaks about his fears for the farm community as fodder concerns grow, at a forum at Cappamore Show.

A large crowd of over 100 people came to hear former rugby international Tony Buckley speak about his troubles with depression at a specially organised forum on mental health and fodder at Cappamore Show on Saturday 18 August.

Buckley spoke frankly about his own issues with mental health even at the height of his rugby career and urged farmers to ask for health if they felt they were struggling to cope.

“I think the looming fodder crisis could be a major stressor for people,” Buckley said.

“You can say you’ll be grand, I’ll be fine, I’m not soft, but once a major stressor hits you won’t get away from it.”

“When push came to shove I had to confide in a doctor and since the day I opened up to him everything has turned around.”

Buckley spoke about “bottling up” emotions and highlighted the fact that it can often be harder for men to admit that they have a mental health problem and ask for help.

“If you are struggling go to your GP, they won’t judge you they’ll just help you as a person and it’s confidential.”

He also emphasised the need for more support for mental health services and openly criticised the current lack of funding in facilities in Ireland.

“Every year in Ireland you’ve 520 suicides and that every year you’ve 520 families devastated by loss,” Buckley said.

Stigma

The panel of speakers at the event also included Minister Michael Creed, Dairygold Co-op CEO Jim Woulfe, IFA president Joe Healy and Teagasc director Gerry Boyle.

Minister Creed said that while him and his Department “could not fix the weather” they were working with the European Commission on ensuring a number of flexibilities were secured for farmers around schemes.

It is really important that we remove the stigma around mental health

He also urged farmers to take stock if they were struggling and not be afraid to ask for help if they were struggling physically or mentally.

“A farmer’s first duty of care is to himself,” Minister Creed said.

“It’s been a difficult year, we had a long winter with a late spring and only about six weeks of normality and the last two months of virtual drought.”

“It is really important that we remove the stigma around mental health.”

Jim Woulfe and Gerry Boyle urged farmers to make use of facilities to undertake a fodder budget, with Woulfe assuring farmers worried about finances or credit that they would be catered for by the co-op.

President of the IFA Joe Healy, while welcoming the recent fertiliser and slurry spreading extension, called on Minister Creed to understand that it was not just a fodder but a financial crisis.

He stated that a fodder import scheme and low-cost loans needed to be rolled out as soon as possible.

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Gardaí investigating fire in Galway which destroyed 300 bales
The shed was set on fire on the evening of 16 August in Corrandulla in Galway.

Gardaí are investigating after a shed with 300 bales of hay was set on fire in Corrandulla, Co Galway, on 16 August.

The incident happened in the evening time and gardaí are investigating it as an incident of criminal damage by fire.

A number of fire brigade units attended the fire and brought the blaze under control.

Enquiries are continuing into the fire, a Garda spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

Anyone with information about the fire has been asked to contact Loughgeorge or Millstreet garda stations at 091-538 000.