Now showing items 1-20 of 206

    • Does supplementation with leucine-enriched protein alone and in combination with fish-oil-derived n–3 PUFA affect muscle mass, strength, physical performance, and muscle protein synthesis in well-nourished older adults? A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

      Murphy, Caoileann H; Flanagan, Ellen M; De Vito, Giuseppe; Susta, Davide; Mitchelson, Kathleen A J; de Marco Castro, Elena; Senden, Joan M G; Goessens, Joy P B; Mikłosz, Agnieszka; Chabowski, Adrian; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021-04-19)
      Background Leucine-enriched protein (LEU-PRO) and long-chain (LC) n–3 (ω–3) PUFAs have each been proposed to improve muscle mass and function in older adults, whereas their combination may be more effective than either alone. Objective The impact of LEU-PRO supplementation alone and combined with LC n–3 PUFAs on appendicular lean mass, strength, physical performance and myofibrillar protein synthesis (MyoPS) was investigated in older adults at risk of sarcopenia. Methods This 24-wk, 3-arm parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in 107 men and women aged ≥65 y with low muscle mass and/or strength. Twice daily, participants consumed a supplement containing either LEU-PRO (3 g leucine, 10 g protein; n = 38), LEU-PRO plus LC n–3 PUFAs (0.8 g EPA, 1.1 g DHA; LEU-PRO+n–3; n = 38), or an isoenergetic control (CON; n = 31). Appendicular lean mass, handgrip strength, leg strength, physical performance, and circulating metabolic and renal function markers were measured pre-, mid-, and postintervention. Integrated rates of MyoPS were assessed in a subcohort (n = 28). Results Neither LEU-PRO nor LEU-PRO+n–3 supplementation affected appendicular lean mass, handgrip strength, knee extension strength, physical performance or MyoPS. However, isometric knee flexion peak torque (treatment effect: −7.1 Nm; 95% CI: −12.5, −1.8 Nm; P < 0.01) was lower postsupplementation in LEU-PRO+n–3 compared with CON. Serum triacylglycerol and total adiponectin concentrations were lower, and HOMA-IR was higher, in LEU-PRO+n–3 compared with CON postsupplementation (all P < 0.05). Estimated glomerular filtration rate was higher and cystatin c was lower in LEU-PRO and LEU-PRO+n–3 postsupplementation compared with CON (all P < 0.05). Conclusions Contrary to our hypothesis, we did not observe a beneficial effect of LEU-PRO supplementation alone or combined with LC n–3 PUFA supplementation on appendicular lean mass, strength, physical performance or MyoPS in older adults at risk of sarcopenia. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03429491.
    • Policy Incentives as Behavioural Drivers of Beef Enterprises in Ireland: Where are the Kinks?

      McCormack, Michele; O' Donoghue, Cathal (2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182733, European Association of Agricultural Economists., 2014)
      The current structure of agricultural production is still influenced by historical coupled payments, even though it has been eight years since decoupled payments were introduced. Much of the expansion in the Irish cattle herd that occurred during the era of the MacSharry reforms is still visible. In this paper we consider the incentives associated with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) over time in relation to production. Our primary focus is on subsidies that were available to the beef sector, and we investigate the behavioural pressures associated with these incentives. We have developed a Hypothetical microsimulation model using a typical farm, based on plausible values taken from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) 1995. We are investigating if subsidies available to the beef sector in Ireland through the CAP since 1984 resulted in non-linearity in the Direct Payment Schedule faced by cattle farmers, and if so where were these kinks and what were the behavioural pressures associated with these incentives? Identifying non-linearity in the Direct Payment Schedule indicates where incentives occurred. Large kinks are associated with large incentives at that point. We calculated a total payment for each subsidy from 1984 to 2014, and constructed a Direct Payment Schedule that varies by stocking rate. We find that subsidies, and in particular the CAP reform payments of the MacSharry era introduced large discontinuities or kink points in the Direct Payment Schedule of beef farmers, indicating that there were large incentives for farmers to produce at or just before these points.
    • Systems Approach to the Economic Impact of Technical Performance in the Sheep Sector

      Kilcline, Kevin; O' Donoghue, Cathal; Hennessy, Thia; Hynes, Stephen (Agricultural Economics Society, 2015-04-15)
      This paper investigates the structure and characteristics of the full distribution of sheep farms achieving various levels of financial and technical performance. Analysing data from the Irish panel dataset, the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) shows Irish sheep farms exhibit relatively low level of technical performance and that on-farm technical advances have been stagnant over the past 20 years. NFS data files not previously manipulated for research purposes are used to capture monthly animal data flows for the full sample of NFS sheep farms for the 3 year period 2008 – 2010. Utilising this data we identify and analyse key flock performance indicators including reproduction, mortality rates. These “Livestock Demographic” variables are important indicators for estimating and modelling flock dynamics and production, combining two drivers of flock performance: the biological characteristics of the stock on the farm and the farmers’ flock management practices. Results indicate the potential impacts on farm output and gross margins of improved animal performance which is achievable through specific technology adoptions.
    • Comparing economic performance with greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen surplus on Irish Farms

      Lynch, John (2017-04-23)
      The need to reduce the environmental footprint of agricultural production is widely recognised. At the same time, agricultural production must be sufficient to feed the expanding human population. It has been argued that this production can be achieved through sustainable intensification, with efficient intensive farms optimal for both environmental and economic performance. This paper explores this concept by comparing farm financial performance (gross margins per hectare and family farm income per labour unit) with two key environmental metrics, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen surpluses, on Irish farms from the 2015 Teagasc National Farm Survey. Overall, farms with better economic performance tend to have lower emissions per unit agricultural output, and obtain more agricultural output per kg surplus nitrogen applied. However, the intensive production on these economically better performing farms is also associated with greater emissions and nitrogen surpluses per hectare farmed. These results are discussed in the context of current debate surrounding agricultural policy in Ireland, where ambitions to increase agricultural production will be challenged to meet environmental targets, and in relation to wider debates around the best path for sustainable agricultural production.
    • Developing a microsimulation model for farm forestry planting decisions

      Ryan, Mary; O’Donoghue, Cathal (International Microsimulation Association, 2018)
      There is increasing pressure in Europe to convert land from agriculture to forestry which would enable the sequestration of additional carbon, thereby mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas production. However, there is little or no information available on the drivers of the land use change decision from agriculture to forestry at individual farm level, which is complicated by the inter-temporal nature of the decision.This paper describes a static microsimulation approach which provides a better understanding of the life-cycle relativity of forestry and agricultural incomes, using Ireland as a casestudy. The microsimulation methodology allows for the generation of actual and counterfactual forest and agricultural income streams and for other attributes of utility such as long-term wealth and leisure, for the first time. These attributes are then modelled using purpose built forest models and farm microdata from a 30 year longitudinal dataset. The results show the importance of financial drivers but additionally show that wealth and leisure are also important factors in this inter-temporal land use change decision. By facilitating the examination of the distribution of farms across the farming population, the use of a static microsimulation approach allows us to make a considerable contribution to the literature in relation to the underlying drivers of farm afforestation behaviour. In the broader context of Climate Smart Agriculture and the Grand Challenges facing the intensification of agricultural production, these findings have implications for policies that seek to optimize natural resource use.
    • Human dynamics and the intergenerational farm transfer process in later life: A roadmap for future generational renewal in agriculture policy

      Conway, Shane Francis; McDonagh, John; Farrell, Maura; Kinsella, Anne; National University of Ireland, Galway; Geographical Society of Ireland (International Farm Management Association and Institute of Agricultural Management, 2019)
      The senior generation’s reluctance and indeed resistance to alter the status quo of the existing management and ownership structure of their family farm is undoubtedly strong within the farming community. This phenomenon has resulted in extraordinary socio-economic challenges for young people aspiring to embark on a career in farming. The reasons why older farmers fail to plan effectively and expeditiously for the future are expansive, and range from the potential loss of identity, status and power that may occur as a result of engaging in the process, to the intrinsic multi-level relationship farmers have with their farms. These so-called ‘soft issues’ i.e. the emotional and social dimensions involved, are the issues that distort and dominate the older generation’s decisions on the future trajectory of the farm. These really are the ‘hard issues’. This paper draws on three interrelated journal articles exploring the complex human dynamics influencing the decision-making processes surrounding farm succession and retirement to put forth a series of recommendations that sensitively deal with problematic issues surrounding generational renewal in agriculture, whilst also ensuring farmers’ emotional wellbeing in later life.
    • Mobilising Land Mobility in the European Union: An Under-Researched Phenomenon

      Conway, Shane Francis; Farrell, Maura; McDonagh, John; Kinsella, Anne (International Farm Management Association and Institute of Agricultural Management, 2020)
      Interest in land mobility and its impact on the structural development and economic growth of the agricultural sector has grown considerably amid concerns about the ageing European farming population. There have been calls throughout Europe for structural and institutional deterrents obstructing the passage of farmland from the older to younger generation of farmers to overcome this phenomenon and help facilitate generational renewal in agriculture. Nonetheless, gaining access to land is widely reported to be the single largest barrier facing young people attempting to enter farming. Whilst land mobility is given homogenous importance throughout Europe, this view point paper highlights that policies and regulations relating to land differ considerably across EU Member States. There is also a surprising scarcity of literature and academic discussion on access to land in a European context, despite its crucial role in the survival, continuity and future prosperity of the farming industry and the broader sustainability of rural communities. By focussing on the key policy and structural issues hampering access to agricultural land throughout Europe, and using the Republic of Ireland’s Land Mobility Service as a good practice example of how to help facilitate the process, this paper provides a rationale for why a major European study is required to investigate the factors which influence land mobility in each of the 27 EU Member States in order to inform future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans, particularly in relation to generational renewal objectives.
    • Till death do us part: Exploring the Irish farmer-farm relationship in later life through the lens of ‘Insideness’

      Conway, Shane Francis; McDonagh, John; Farrell, Maura; Kinsella, Anne; National University of Ireland, Galway; Geographical Society of Ireland (International Farm Management Association and Institute of Agricultural Management, 2018)
      The senior generation’s unwillingness to relinquish managerial duties and retire is a globally recognized characteristic of intergenerational family farm transfer. This is despite the array of financial incentives put in place to stimulate and entice the process. Applying Rowles’ concept of ‘insideness’ as a theoretical framework, this paper brings into focus the suitability and appropriateness of previous and existing farm transfer policy strategies, by presenting an insightful, nuanced analysis of the deeply embedded attachment older farmers have with their farms, and how such a bond can stifle the necessary hand over of the farm business to the next generation. This research employs a multi-method triangulation design, consisting of a self-administered questionnaire and an Irish adaptation of the International FARMTRANSFERS Survey in conjunction with complimentary Problem-Centred Interviews, to generate a comprehensive insight into the intricate, multi-level farmer-farm relationship in later life. The overriding themes to emerge from the content analysis of the empirical research are farmer’s inherit desire to stay rooted in place in old age and also to maintain legitimate connectedness within the farming community by remaining active and productive on the farm. Additionally, there is a strong sense of nostalgia attributed to the farm, as it is found to represent a mosaic of the farmer’s achievements as well as being a landscape of memories. The paper concludes by suggesting that a greater focus on the farmer-farm relationship has the potential to finally unite farm transfer policy efforts with the mind-set of its targeted audience, after decades of disconnect.
    • MEASURING GHG EMISSIONS ACROSS THE AGRI-FOOD SECTOR VALUE CHAIN: THE DEVELOPMENT OF BIO - A BIO-ECONOMY INPUT-OUTPUT MODEL

      O’Donoghue, Cathal; Chyzheuskaya, Aksana; Grealis, Eoin; Finnegan, William; Goggin, Jamie; Hynes, Stephen; Kilcline, Kevin; Ryan, Mary; Science Foundation Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL ON FOOD SYSTEM DYNAMICS, 2018)
      Sustainable intensification is one of the greatest challenges facing the agri-food sector which needs to produce more food to meet increasing global demand, while minimising negative environmental impacts such as agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Sustainable intensification relates not just to primary production, but also has wider value chain implications. An input-output model is a modelling framework which contains the flows across a value chain within a country. Input-output (IO) models have been disaggregated to have finer granular detail in relation to agricultural sub-sectoral value chains. National IO models with limited agricultural disaggregation have been developed to look at carbon footprints and within agriculture to look at the carbon footprint of specific value chains. In this paper we adapt an agriculturally disaggregated IO model to analyse the source of emissions in different components of agri-food value chains. We focus on Ireland, where emissions from agriculture comprise nearly 30% of national emissions and where there has been a major expansion and transformation in agriculture since the abolition of milk quota restrictions. In a substantial Annex to this paper, we describe the modelling assumptions made in developing this model. Breaking up the value chain into components, we find that most value is generated at the processing stage of the value chain, with greater processing value in more sophisticated value chains such as dairy processing. On the other hand, emissions are in general highest in primary production, albeit emissions from purchased animal feed being higher for poultry than for other value chains, given the lower direct emissions from poultry than from ruminants or sheep. The analysis highlights that emissions per unit of output are much higher for beef and sheep meat value chains than for pig and poultry meat value chains.
    • Developing a microsimulation model for farm forestry planting decisions

      Ryan, Mary; O’Donoghue, Cathal (International Microsimulation Association, 2018)
      There is increasing pressure in Europe to convert land from agriculture to forestry which would enable the sequestration of additional carbon, thereby mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas production. However, there is little or no information available on the drivers of the land use change decision from agriculture to forestry at individual farm level, which is complicated by the inter-temporal nature of the decision.This paper describes a static microsimulation approach which provides a better understanding of the life-cycle relativity of forestry and agricultural incomes, using Ireland as a casestudy. The microsimulation methodology allows for the generation of actual and counterfactual forest and agricultural income streams and for other attributes of utility such as long-term wealth and leisure, for the first time. These attributes are then modelled using purpose built forest models and farm microdata from a 30 year longitudinal dataset. The results show the importance of financial drivers but additionally show that wealth and leisure are also important factors in this inter-temporal land use change decision. By facilitating the examination of the distribution of farms across the farming population, the use of a static microsimulation approach allows us to make a considerable contribution to the literature in relation to the underlying drivers of farm afforestation behaviour. In the broader context of Climate Smart Agriculture and the Grand Challenges facing the intensification of agricultural production, these findings have implications for policies that seek to optimize natural resource use.
    • Hidden Underemployment Among Irish Farm Holders 1996-2011

      Loughrey, Jason; Hennessy, Thia (Agricultural Economics Society Annual Conference, 2013)
      This paper examines the factors driving hidden underemployment on Irish farms during the course of the economic boom in Ireland and the subsequent economic decline post 2008. This measure of hidden underemployment is due to differences between the farmer‟s reported amount of labour and the standard labour requirement estimated in the Teagasc National Farm Survey. Hidden underemployment can be attributed to a number of factors relating to inadequate employment situations as described at the 16th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (16th ICLS) such as low productivity, casual work practices and the poor utilisation of skills and other factors specific to agriculture and/or self employment. We place particular attention upon the potential role of off-farm labour supply in solving the underemployment problem. We use a two-stage residual inclusion model and a random effects probit model to examine the forces behind farm underemployment. This paper provides an interesting set of results given that the end of the economic boom phase co-incided closely but not precisely with the decoupling of farm-level subsidies in 2006.
    • The Sustainable Intensification of the Irish Dairy Sector

      Dillon, Emma Jane; Hennessy, Thia; Buckley, Cathal; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Moran, Brian; Ryan, Mary (Annual Conference of the Agricultural Economics Society, 2014)
      The concept of sustainability is one of the forefront issues in global agricultural production at present, given mounting pressure to increase food production in both a socially responsible and environmentally friendly way. From an Irish perspective the sustainable intensification of agriculture is of particular relevance given ambitious targets to increase milk production by 50 percent by 2020, in the context of European milk quota removal. Alongside this, environmental targets may be specified, meaning that expansion would have to be achieved in a sustainable way. To evaluate dairy farm-level sustainability a series of indicators are developed here using Teagasc National Farm Survey FADN (Farm Accountancy Data Network) data for Ireland from 2012. Three dimensions, reflecting the multifaceted nature of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) are considered. Given the environmental challenges inherent in the sustainable intensification of agriculture, it is encouraging to observe that the more intensive, top performing farms (in an economic sense) emit relatively less greenhouse gases when compared to their less intensive counterparts. Conversely, the better performing farms in economic terms tend to have higher nitrogen surplus per hectare on average. This is consistent with their higher rates of production intensity but poses a challenge in terms of sustainable expansion. That said this analysis demonstrates that the nitrogen use efficiency of milk production is positively correlated with economic performance, with more intensive farms producing relatively more milk per kg of nitrogen surplus. From a social perspective demography also tends to be correlated with economic performance. These indicators allow for the continued assessment of the sustainability status of Irish farming.
    • Energy demand on dairy farms in Ireland

      Upton, John; Humphreys, James; Groot Koerkamp, P.W.G.; French, Padraig; Dillon, Pat; De Boer, I.J.M.; INTERREG IVB North-West Europe (American Dairy Science Association, 2013-10)
      Reducing electricity consumption in Irish milk production is a topical issue for 2 reasons. First, the introduction of a dynamic electricity pricing system, with peak and off-peak prices, will be a reality for 80% of electricity consumers by 2020. The proposed pricing schedule intends to discourage energy consumption during peak periods (i.e., when electricity demand on the national grid is high) and to incentivize energy consumption during off-peak periods. If farmers, for example, carry out their evening milking during the peak period, energy costs may increase, which would affect farm profitability. Second, electricity consumption is identified in contributing to about 25% of energy use along the life cycle of pasture-based milk. The objectives of this study, therefore, were to document electricity use per kilogram of milk sold and to identify strategies that reduce its overall use while maximizing its use in off-peak periods (currently from 0000 to 0900 h). We assessed, therefore, average daily and seasonal trends in electricity consumption on 22 Irish dairy farms, through detailed auditing of electricity-consuming processes. To determine the potential of identified strategies to save energy, we also assessed total energy use of Irish milk, which is the sum of the direct (i.e., energy use on farm) and indirect energy use (i.e., energy needed to produce farm inputs). On average, a total of 31.73 MJ was required to produce 1 kg of milk solids, of which 20% was direct and 80% was indirect energy use. Electricity accounted for 60% of the direct energy use, and mainly resulted from milk cooling (31%), water heating (23%), and milking (20%). Analysis of trends in electricity consumption revealed that 62% of daily electricity was used at peak periods. Electricity use on Irish dairy farms, therefore, is substantial and centered around milk harvesting. To improve the competitiveness of milk production in a dynamic electricity pricing environment, therefore, management changes and technologies are required that decouple energy use during milking processes from peak periods.
    • The Potential of Blended Learning in Agricultural Education of Ireland

      Deegan, Donna; Wims, Padraig; Pettit, Tony (IJSART, 2015-05-21)
      The management of agricultural education faces on-going challenges to deliver current and effective materials in an approach that takes advantage of developments in education technology. In this article the use of blended learning was compared with the traditional approach for the instruction of theoretical materials in agricultural education. This study used a pre-test, post-test experimental design with agricultural college students. All students were taught using either a traditional or blended methodology. They were subsequently assessed to determine their level of knowledge. Two key findings from this study were highlighted: Firstly, regardless of their age profile all learners achieved significantly better exam results following blended teaching for theoretical material. Secondly, academically weaker students performed significantly better following the blended method of delivery. Key implications arising from this research indicate that the use of the blended method of delivery can increase students acquisition of knowledge for learners of all ages; blended learning can bring text heavy materials to life and makes them more interactive and less mundane; the learning experience and learning outcomes for academically weaker students are improved through the blended learning environment.
    • Measuring the impact of improved animal health practices on the economic efficiency of Irish dairy farms

      Dillon, Emma Jane; Hennessy, Thia (Agricultural Economics Society, 2013)
      Cost and production efficiency gains must be achieved across herds if the Irish dairy sector is to prosper in a post-quota environment. As such, improvements in animal health are required and the costs of diseases such as mastitis must be reduced. Elevated levels of somatic cell count (SCC) found in milk are an indicator of the prevalence of clinical and subclinical mastitis in dairy herds. Given an EU regulatory limit of 400,000 (cells/mL) (Council Directive 92/46/EEC), the adverse effect of the disease on milk quality and the increasing practice of milk processors offering financial incentives for reduced cell count levels, the benefits of improved farm management practices resulting in lowered SCC are quantified here at the farm-level. Teagasc National Farm Survey data from over 300 nationally representative Irish dairy farms over a four year period (2008-2011) is utilised in the analysis. Preliminary regression results from a pooled OLS model indicate that a cell count reduction of 100,000 (cells/mL) results in an increase in gross margin of 6% or €87 per cow when all other pertinent factors are controlled for. The efficacy of herd management practices such as milk recording in improving animal health was also confirmed within the model. A cell count reduction of 17% was found as a result of milk recording within the herd, when all other variables were taken into account.
    • How to Strengthen Innovation Support Services in Agriculture with Regard to Multi-Stakeholder Approaches

      Faure, Guy; Knierim, Andrea; Koutsouris, Alex; Ndah, Hycenth Tim; Audouin, Sarah; Zarokosta, Elena; Wielinga, Eelke; Triomphe, Bernard; Mathé, Syndhia; Temple, Ludovic; et al. (CAIRN, 2019)
      The new agricultural EU policy aims at strengthening actors’ capacities for innovation by taking into account the complexity of innovation processes. This paper aims to characterise the key innovation support services (ISS) which are needed to support actors to innovate. In the EU AgriSpin project, we analysed 57 case studies describing innovation processes. We used a common grid to characterize ISS. Our results show that ISS depends on the phase of the innovation. During the initial phases, there is a need for innovative support services (e.g. network building, support to innovator). In the latter phases, there is a need for more conventional services (e.g. training, credit) both at farm level, value chain level and territory level. Brokering functions and new services are key in supporting actors to innovate by facilitating interactions for co-production of knowledge, co-design of technologies and, identification of new institutional arrangements.
    • Irish dairy farmers’ engagement with animal health surveillance services: Factors influencing sample submission

      McFarland, Lauren; Macken-Walsh, Áine; Claydon, Grace; Casey, Mícheál; Douglass, Alexander; McGrath, Guy; McAloon, Conor G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 17/S/230 (Science Direct, 2020-08-26)
      A high-quality animal health surveillance service is required to inform policy and decision-making in food-animal disease control, to substantiate claims regarding national animal health status and for the early detection of exotic or emerging diseases. In Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine provides partially subsidized testing of farm animal samples and postmortem examinations to the Irish agriculture sector (farmers) at 6 regional veterinary laboratories (RVL) throughout the country. Diagnoses and data from these submissions are recorded and reported monthly and annually to enable animal health monitoring and disease surveillance. In a passive surveillance model, both the veterinary practitioner and the farmer play a vital role in sample submission by determining which cases are sent to the laboratory for postmortem or diagnostic testing. This paper identified factors influencing Irish dairy farmers' decisions to submit carcasses to RVL. Behavioral determinants of the submission of samples where veterinary professionals are concerned has been studied previously; however, limited work has studied determinants among farmers. This study conducted qualitative analyses of decisions of Irish dairy farmers relevant to diagnostic sample submission to an RVL and to examine the herd-level characteristics of farmers that submitted cases to an RVL. The biographical narrative interpretive method was used to interview 5 case-study farmers who were classified nonsubmitters, medium, or high submitters to the postmortem service based on the proportion of on-farm mortalities submitted to the laboratory service in 2016. The data obtained from these interviews were supplemented and triangulated through dairy farmer focus groups. The data were thematically analyzed and described qualitatively. In addition, quantitative analysis was undertaken. Data for herds within the catchment area of a central RVL were extracted, and a multivariable logistic regression model was constructed to examine the relationship between herds from which carcasses were submitted to the laboratory and those from which none were submitted. Results from the analysis show that the farmer's veterinary practitioner was the primary influence on submission of carcasses to the laboratory. Similarly, the type of incident, logistical issues with transporting carcasses to the laboratory, influence of peers, presence of alternative private laboratories, and a fear of government involvement were key factors emerging from the case-study interview and focus group data. Herd size was identified in both the qualitative and quantitative analysis as a factor determining submission. In the logistic regression model, herd size and increased levels of expansion were positively correlated with the odds of submission, whereas distance from the laboratory was negatively associated with odds of submission. These results identify the main factors influencing the use of diagnostic services for surveillance of animal health, signaling how services may be made more attractive by policy makers to a potentially wider cohort of users.
    • 583 Evidence-based social learning for safety and health promotion among irish dairy farmers

      O'Connor, T; Meredith, D; Kinsella, J; McNamara, J (BMJ Journals, 2018-04-24)
      Introduction Farming is an occupation that incurs high rates of occupational injuries and illness, including fatalities. Internationally, legislative approaches to improve agricultural occupational safety and health (OSH) practices have been inconsistent in achieving those objectives. Many alternative initiatives to influence agricultural OSH practices have been developed, frequently emphasising information provision. In Ireland, evaluation of information provision approaches, such as classroom-based learning, has found that this is ineffective for improving agricultural OSH practices. However, peer-based learning using communities of practice (COPs), such as Teagasc dairy farmer discussion groups, presents a promising context for agricultural OSH promotion in Ireland. Research has established the efficacy of farmer discussion groups for promoting adoption of novel technologies and production practices. Little research has been undertaken to assess whether they are effective for promoting agricultural OSH practices. This paper describes the extent to which Teagasc dairy discussion groups engage with agricultural OSH, and identifies the characteristics associated with agricultural OSH engagement. The results are evaluated with respect to the existing literature regarding effective social learning for farming and OSH promotion, to assess the suitability of these COPs for agricultural OSH promotion. Methods Information about discussion group characteristics and engagement with OSH topics was collected using a survey of Teagasc dairy discussion group members, and a survey of Teagasc dairy discussion group facilitators. The statistical software R was used to assess variation in discussion group engagement with OSH, and the group characteristics statistically associated with that variation. Result Analysis of the results is ongoing and will be completed in September 2017. Discussion The findings of this study, including the evaluation framework developed from literature review, can contribute to effective agricultural OSH promotion in Ireland, and internationally. This is especially true for other countries with existing farmer COPs, such as farmer discussion groups in New Zealand and Wales.
    • Establishing nationally representative benchmarks of farm-gate nitrogen and phosphorus balances and use efficiencies on Irish farms to encourage improvements

      Thomas, I.A.; Buckley, C.; Kelly, E.; Dillon, E.; Lynch, J.; Moran, B.; Hennessy, T.; Murphy, P.N.C.; Environmental Protection Agency; 2015-SE-DS-7 (Elsevier BV, 2020-06)
      Agriculture faces considerable challenges of achieving more sustainable production that minimises nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) losses and meets international obligations for water quality and greenhouse gas emissions. This must involve reducing nutrient balance (NB) surpluses and increasing nutrient use efficiencies (NUEs), which could also improve farm profitability (a win-win). To set targets and motivate improvements in Ireland, nationally representative benchmarks were established for different farm categories (sector, soil group and production intensity). Annual farm-gate NBs (kg ha−1) and NUEs (%) for N and P were calculated for 1446 nationally representative farms from 2008 to 2015 using import and export data collected by the Teagasc National Farm Survey (part of the EU Farm Accountancy Data Network). Benchmarks for each category were established using quantile regression analysis and percentile rankings to identify farms with the lowest NB surplus per production intensity and highest gross margins (€ ha−1). Within all categories, large ranges in NBs and NUEs between benchmark farms and poorer performers show considerable room for nutrient management improvements. Results show that as agriculture intensifies, nutrient surpluses, use efficiencies and gross margins increase, but benchmark farms minimise surpluses to relatively low levels (i.e. are more sustainable). This is due to, per ha, lower fertiliser and feed imports, greater exports of agricultural products, and for dairy, sheep and suckler cattle, relatively high stocking rates. For the ambitious scenario of all non-benchmark farms reaching the optimal benchmark zone, moderate reductions in farm nutrient surpluses were found with great improvements in profitability, leading to a 31% and 9% decrease in N and P surplus nationally, predominantly from dairy and non-suckler cattle. The study also identifies excessive surpluses for each level of production intensity, which could be used by policy in setting upper limits to improve sustainability.
    • Risky (farm) business: Perceptions of economic risk in farm succession and inheritance

      Leonard, Brian; Farrell, Maura; Mahon, Marie; Kinsella, Anne; O'Donoghue, Cathal; Royal Dublin Society; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier BV, 2020-04)
      Highlights • Generational renewal is high on the political agenda for agriculture, with young farmers linked to positive outcomes. • There are limited policy incentives for older farmers to consider engaging in the farm succession and inheritance process. • Farmers perceive risks and uncertainties regarding the transfer process, and thus avoid handing over to their successors. • Taxation, retirement income, long term care cost, and marital breakdown are motivations for farmers to retain ownership. • Financial incentives related to generational renewal must aim to alleviate the level of risk perceived by farmers.