Category Archives: Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute

AFBI – Dairy Open Day

AFBI – Dairy Open Day

AFBI held a major Dairy Open Day at its Hillsborough research farm on Wednesday 6 June with the theme of Dairy Innovation 2018 – Profiting from AFBI Research. The sun shone all day at the Dairy Open Day at AFBI Hillsborough on Wednesday 6th June, but it was the science that shone brightest and was the star of the show. Over 800 visitors attended the all-day event, which was organised in partnership with AgriSearch and CAFRE.

In-field presentations

The open day featured a number of in-field presentations where leading AFBI researchers presented key findings from their research and discussions on how AFBI scientists are using the latest technologies to find new ways of optimising farming practices.

The in-field poster presentations can be seen HERE 

A major feature of this year’s event involved the opportunity to discuss how to adopt these innovations on farm with AFBI researchers and postgraduate students, AgriSearch staff, as well as CAFRE technologists.

A gallery of photos from the event can be viewed HERE

WaterPro Partner Update: AFBI

WaterPro Partner Update: AFBI

Despite the implementation of EU regulations controlling the use of fertilisers inImage 1 AFBI agriculture, reserves of phosphorus (P) in soils continue to pose a threat to water quality. Mobilisation and transport of this legacy P from soil to surface waters has been highlighted as a probable and likely cause of many water bodies continuing to fail to achieve targets under the Water Framework Directive. Over recent decades, the CENIT grassland site (Fig 1) in AFBI Hillsborough has provided some insights into these concerns. From 2000 these grassland plots received P fertiliser amendments and from 2005 P applications ceased and subsequently P losses in runoff and drain flow from each plot were monitored closely until 2012. Unexpectedly, the concentration time series of losses across the plots were almost identical infact the control plot which received no P additions from 2000, and remained at Olsen P index 2 for the duration of the study, lost as much P as those plots receiving heavy applications of P until 2005.

 

The majority of agriculture in N.Ireland is grass-based with the production of dairy and Image 2 AFBIbeef cattle being prevalent and as such, methodologies to protect environmental water quality from agricultural runoff are of utmost importance if the region is to meet its goals under the EU Water Framework Directive. This is recognised in the recently published Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs “Sustainable Agricultural Land Management Strategy report and Executive summary” where there are recommendations for woody riparian strips, populated by plants such as willow which can withstand wet conditions and can be coppiced regularly for biomaterials (fuel or further processing). It is suggested that these strips, or bio-filtration blocks, will slow the flow of surface water, collect the sediment and absorb the Phosphorus before it enters the watercourse.

 

AFBI refurbished and planted riparian strips of SRC willow on 3 of 6 CENIT blocks in Image 3 AFBIMay 2016 and has been continuing with automatic overland and drainage water sampling since them. Within the cycle of SRC willow establishment are phases of land preparation, planting, establishment and cutback. Through these stages a number of issues have been dealt with including herbicide spray drift, insect and slug infestations and unexpected frosts. These let to the requirements for vigilance and some gapping up. Strong regrowth can now be seen (Fig 2). Even though there are some signs that both soluble and particulate loads are reducing as a result of the SRC willow intervention, these are not statistically significant at this stage however the plantations have been in their early days.

Launch of New Research Partnership on Water Quality at AFBI

Launch of New Research Partnership on Water Quality at AFBI

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute recently hosted the Launch Event for a major new Interreg VB research project which aims to develop sustainable systems to protect water quality from diffuse agricultural and mining pollution. AFBI is a major partner in this EU funded Interreg VB – Northern Periphery & Arctic project which has an overall value of approximately €2m. The project is led by the Savonia University of Applied Sciences in Finland and other partners include: the Finnish Geological Survey; the Agricultural University of Iceland; Luleå University of Technology Sweden; the Lough Neagh Partnership; Heriot Watt University in Scotland; Donegal County Council; and the Agricultural Agency of the Faroe Islands.

WaterPro PartnersThe Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute recently hosted the Launch Event for a major new Interreg VB research project which aims to develop sustainable systems to protect water quality from diffuse agricultural and mining pollution. AFBI is a major partner in this EU funded Interreg VB – Northern Periphery & Arctic project which has an overall value of approximately €2m. The project is led by the Savonia University of Applied Sciences in Finland and other partners include: the Finnish Geological Survey; the Agricultural University of Iceland; Luleå University of Technology Sweden; the Lough Neagh Partnership; Heriot Watt University in Scotland; Donegal County Council; and the Agricultural Agency of the Faroe Islands.

WaterPro site visit at AFBIAFBI’s contribution to the project will focus on the use of Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow to reduce nutrient export from agriculture.  SRC willow is a fast growing hardwood that takes up large volumes of water and can also utilise the nutrients found in runoff from agricultural sources.  If these nutrients enter lakes and rivers they can result in deterioration in water quality. In addition, SRC willow also provides farmers with an economically viable crop and sustainable source of biomass for energy production on-farm and elsewhere. This project aims to build on previous work carried out by AFBI on SRC willow (see www.afbini.gov.uk) by demonstrating the contribution that SRC willow can make to the sustainable intensification of agriculture in Northern Ireland by reducing nutrient export and lowering the carbon footprint while maintaining farm profitability.

AFBI Farm visit, WaterProFuture growth in the local agri-food sector as projected under the Going for Growth strategy increases the requirement for sustainable recycling and management of wastes. In addition, the EU Water Framework Directive sets stringent targets for water quality across the region. The use of SRC willow provides a solution that can help achieve these dual objectives.

For further details contact Chris Johnston (chris.johnston@afbini.gov.uk)

 

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