• A rapid and multi-element method for the analysis of major nutrients in grass (Lolium perenne) using energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

      Daly, Karen M.; Fenelon, A. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 21/04/2017)
      Elemental analysis of grass (Lolium perenne) is essential in agriculture to ensure grass quality and animal health. Energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectroscopy is a rapid, multi-element alternative to current methods using acid digestion and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). Percentage phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca), determined from grass samples using EDXRF, were within 0.035, 0.319, 0.025 and 0.061, respectively, of ICP-OES values. Concordance correlation coefficients computed using agreement statistics ranged from 0.4379 to 0.9669 (values close to one indicate excellent agreement); however, the level of agreement for each element depended on the calibrations used in EDXRF. Empirical calibrations gave excellent agreement for percentage P, K and Ca, but moderate agreement for percentage Mg due to a weaker correlation between standards and intensities. Standardless calibration using the fundamental parameters (FP) approach exhibited bias, with consistently lower values reported for percentage P and Mg, when compared with ICP-OES methods. The relationship between the methods was plotted as scatter plots with the line of equality included, and although correlation coefficients indicated strong relationships, these statistics masked the effects of consistent bias in the data for percentage P and Mg. These results highlight the importance of distinguishing agreement from correlation when using statistical methods to compare methods of analysis. Agreement estimates improved when a matching library of grass samples was added to the FP method. EDXRF is a comparable alternative to conventional methods for grass analysis when samples of similar matrix type are used as empirical standards or as a matching library.
    • Scientific appraisal of the Irish grass-based milk production system as a sustainable source of premium quality milk and dairy products

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Hennessy, Deirdre (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2017-12-29)
      The Irish dairy industry is critically important to the economy and general well-being of a large section of the Irish population. Its quality, sustainability and maintenance are the key for a vibrant rural society in the future. Two important elements for the future of this industry include (a) the quality, marketing and sale of dairy products on the export market and (b) sustainability from the perspectives of people, planet and profit. This paper provides a short review of current scientific evidence in relation to a number of topics, each of which is important in maintaining and developing dairy product quality and the sustainability of the Irish dairy industry. The topics addressed in the paper are as follows: the parameters of milk composition; milk processing; hygiene quality and safety; farm management practices and the regulations that govern such practices; animal health and welfare; environmental impacts; economic implications for farm families and rural communities; and the overall future sustainability of the family-based dairy farm structure.
    • Sinapinic and protocatechuic acids found in rapeseed: isolation, characterisation and potential benefits for human health as functional food ingredients

      Quinn, Leah; Gray, Stephen G.; Meaney, Steven; Finn, Stephen; Kenny, Owen; Hayes, Maria (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 13/12/2017)
      Rapeseed is one of the world’s major oilseeds, and rapeseed oil is produced by pressing of the seeds. This process results in the production of a low-economic-value by-product, rapeseed meal, which is commonly used as animal feed. Rapeseed meal is rich in bioactive phenolic compounds, including sinapinic acid (SA) and protocatechuic acid (PCA). Isolation of these bioactive compounds from a by-product of rapeseed oil production is largely in agreement with the current concept of the circular economy and total utilisation of crop harvest using a biorefinery approach. In this review, current information concerning traditional and novel methods to isolate phenolic compounds – including SA and PCA – from rapeseed meal, along with in vitro and in vivo studies concerning the bioactivity of SA and PCA and their associated health effects, is collated. These health effects include anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes activities, along with histone deacetylase inhibition and protective cardiovascular, neurological and hepatic effects. The traditional extraction methods include use of solvents and/or enzymes. However, a need for simpler, more efficient methodologies has led to the development of novel extraction processes, including microwave-assisted, ultrasound-assisted, pulsed electric field and high-voltage electrical discharge extraction processes.