Climate action was a central theme for this year’s exhibition and students from all over the country rose to the challenge and produced some very innovative creations to tackle the climate crisis.
Other projects involved practical and innovative technology solutions to everyday farming, while theoretic projects analysed and created better methods for future farming.
Eva McBrearty and Annabelle Ryan from the Ursuline Secondary school in Co Tipperary carried out an investigation into regenerative farming. They examined whether regenerative farming using minimal tillage sequesters more carbon dioxide in the soil than traditional farming methods.
Using different aged soils, they discovered that the earliest ploughed soil (2004) carried four times the percentage of carbon than soil that was most recently ploughed in 2019.
“This proves that soil can sequester more carbon if you plough it less,” said Annabelle. The students also carried out a PH test and concluded that soil nutrients are not affected by ploughing.
David Conway, Lochlainn Hodgins and David Conway from St Joseph’s College in Co Tipperary created an innovative way to measure the amount of feed in a loader to prevent under- or overfeeding your animals.
A mass sensor is connected to the pivot of a tractor loader. The sensor weighs the amount of feed in the bucket and the information is collected and sent to a smartphone app. The young farmers from Toomevara hope that their project will become a reality and solve the problem of misjudging feeding portions.
Darragh Halpin and Andrew Leonard from St Joseph’s secondary school in Dublin set out to analyse the difference six months can make in terms of carbon footprint of a beef animal.
The third years worked with Teagasc and the central statistics office to establish their research. They also sent surveys to farms such as Country Crest and Causey Farm.
Daragh said: “The 30-month-old cow reared on concentrates has a 5.5% higher carbon footprint than a grass-fed 36-month-old cow”.
Inspired by the recent farm protests, the boys wanted to recognise optimum animal rearing techniques for reducing the carbon footprint of Irish farmers.
Sharon Seery and Emily Ray form Moate Community School in Co Westmeath decided to try and eliminate the pungent smell of goat’s milk.
In their research, they discovered that the smell of goat’s milk was the main reason people were reluctant to drink it.
“We compared different breeds first,” said Sharon. Different breeds produce different levels of milk solids.
“More solids is more fat,” said Emily. “Long-chain fatty acids break down the fat using an enzyme called lipase, and that’s what causes the smell”.
They discovered that Boer goats had the strongest smelling milk due to their fat content. Through their research, they examined diet, cooling or using additives to improve the smell. They did succeed in this and treated the public to a taste of yoghurt they had made.
The young scientists know that there is room for expansion in the goat milk market and hope that their project could pave the way to expansion of more goat’s dairy products.