Charlie McConologue T.D, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, along with several senior members of his Department and Dr Siobhan Roche (co-funding partner, Science Foundation Ireland – SFI), were recently welcomed to the VistaMilk SFI Research centre at Teagasc Moorepark.
The VistaMilk team put together an exciting showcase to highlight the vast array of research taking place across its extensive network.
VistaMilk is an SFI world-leading centre for precision-based dairy production and processing that represents a unique collaboration between Agri-Food and information communications technology (ICT) research institutes and leading Irish/multinational food and ICT companies. The showcase audience included invited guests and researchers.
Professor Karl Richards, funded investigator at VistaMilk and Head of Environment Soils & Land Use Department at Teagasc, kicked off the showcase with an overview of his team’s work on the carbon capturing capacity of Irish soils.
VistaMilk have recently invested in two Eddy Covariance towers to add to the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory network as well as the human resources to operate the network and mine the resulting data.
Katie Starsmore and Ben Lahart, both VistaMilk researchers, then demonstrated their novel research on measuring methane in grazing dairy cows using GreenFeed technology.
Dr Deirdre Hennessy, VistaMilk funded investigator and grassland senior research officer at Teagasc, presented her team’s studies on image capture analysis of multispecies swards.
This technology, in time, will enable farmers to easily classify sward species diversity using a smart phone application; the research is now being expanded to estimate the quantity and quality of the pasture, a crucial cog in day-to-day farm management of all grazing animals globally.
VistaMilk colleagues Katie Sugue (Teagasc) and Dr. Alan O’Riordan (Tyndall National Institute) spoke about their collaboration in delivering next generation sensor technology to improve animal health and welfare outcomes at farm level.
VistaMilk’s Professor John Nolan and colleague Dr Alfonso Prado Cabrero from the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, hosted by Waterford Institute of Technology, introduced their ground-breaking work on the use of carotenoids (a type of antioxidant) to fortify dairy foods to improve human health and nutrition.
Finally, Vistamilk PhD student Elena Hayes, spoke about her work in developing a digital milk map in Ireland. This map will assist producers in assessing milk for redistribution across the dairy supply chain.
Minister McConologue during his address, said, “What VistaMilk is doing is targeting the whole soil-to-society ecosystem and I know you will agree we look forward to seeing what the future will bring”.
Professor Frank O’Mara, Director of Teagasc closed proceeding highlighting the importance of centres such as VistaMilk to the entire research landscape.
“Centres like VistaMilk have brought areas of expertise outside of Teagasc’s remit and will greatly enhance the future of farming”.