• HACCP for Irish beef, pork and lamb slaughter

      Bolton, Declan; Sheridan, James J.; US-Ireland Co-operation Programme in Agriculture Science and Technology; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc, 2002-02)
      It is generally accepted that HACCP principles should be incorporated into the food safety control systems in meat processing plants to better assure food safety. The objective of this project was to publish detailed HACCP slaughter documents for the Irish beef, pork and lamb processing industries. These would provide the necessary information and detail to facilitate the implementation of HACCP on the slaughter floor (from lairage to chilling) in Irish meat plants. To this end `HACCP for Irish Beef Slaughter' was published in October 2000, `HACCP for Irish Pork Slaughter' in December 2001 and `HACCP for Irish Lamb Slaughter' will be available early in 2002. These are non-generic, detailed documents which provide the scientific basis for establishing critical control points (CCP), critical limits, monitoring and corrective action procedures.
    • Hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) and hygiene control auditing in Irish beef abattoirs

      Bolton, Declan; Pearce, Rachel; Tergny, Annabel; Howlett, Brendan (Teagasc, 2007-06)
      This project validated two innovative technologies for use in improving the safety of Irish beef. Online monitoring was developed and successfully tested as a tool for controlling faecal contamination on beef carcasses with the resultant reduction in microbial counts. A novel anti-microbial, LactiSAL®, was also tested and validated for use in the beef industry. Sponge swabbing using a polyurethane sponge was developed and validated for use in carcass testing as required in European Commission Decision 2001/471/EC. The costs of developing and implementing a HACCP system in Irish beef slaughter plants were assessed. Furthermore, a guide to relevant food safety legislation, including the development and auditing of HACCP and prerequisites for beef slaughter (in compliance with 2001/471/EC and the European Commission Hygiene Regulations), was developed and published.
    • Herbicide Efficacy Evaluation

      Mitchell, B.J. (Teagasc, 2201-03-01)
      The objective of this series of trials was to determine if recently introduced herbicide formulations give better weed control in cereals and grassland than those presently in use. Effect on crop yield and quality was also examined where appropriate. In 1995, field trials were carried out with a new diflufenican/flurtamone formulation, Bacara, in winter wheat and barley. In both cases, the results showed that this new formulation gave commercially acceptable weed control of a wide range of annual weeds and grasses, when applied at doses between 260 and 350 g a.i. per hectare. None of the products tested had any adverse effects on crop yield or quality. Between 1996 and 1998 a number of new sulfonylurea herbicides, based on carfentrazone and flupyrsulfuron methyl (Lexus series), were tested at trial sites in Carlow and Clonmel. Most of the formulations gave weed control similar to Cougar, which was included in all these trials as standard comparison treatment, without affecting crop yield or quality. New herbicide trials for the control of broad and curled leaf dock (Rumex spp.) in pasture were carried out. Most of the herbicides investigated gave better overall control of both species than the standard dicamba/mecoprop based products. One of the sulfonylyurea-based herbicides controlled broad leaf dock only, and occasionally retarded grass development, but had no effect on clover. Fluroxypyr-based products gave long term control of both dock species without any effect on the grass, but eliminated clover present in the sward. In all trials some dock regrowth was evident one year after treatment.
    • High Pressure Processing of Dairy Foods

      Donnelly, W.J.; Beresford, Tom; Lane, C.N.; Walsh-O'Grady, D.; O'Connor, Paula M.; Fitzgerald, Richard J.; Murphy, P.M.; O'Reilly, Conor; Morgan, S.M.; Ross, R Paul; et al. (Teagasc, 2000-09-01)
      The term High Pressure Processing (HPP) is used to describe the technology whereby products are exposed to very high pressures in the region of 50 - 800 MPa (500 - 8000 Atmospheres). The potential application of HPP in the food industry has gained popularity in recent years, due to developments in the construction of HPP equipment which makes the technology more affordable. Applying HPP to food products results in modifications to interactions between individual components, rates of enzymatic reactions and inactivation of micro-organisms. The first commercial HPP products appeared on the market in 1991 in Japan, where HPP is now being used commercially for products such as jams, sauces, fruit juices, rice cakes and desserts. The pioneering research into the application of HPP to milk dates back to the end of the 19th century. Application of HPP to milk has been shown to modify its gel forming characteristics as well as reducing its microbial load. HPP offers the potential to induce similar effects to those generated by heat on milk protein. Recent reports have also indicated that HPP could accelerate the ripening of cheese. Much of the Irish cheese industry is based on the production of Cheddar cheese, the ripening time for which can vary from 4 - 12 months or more, depending on grade. A substantial portion of the cost associated with Cheddar manufacture is therefore attributed to storage under controlled conditions during ripening. Thus, any technology which may accelerate the ripening of Cheddar cheese while maintaining a balanced flavour and texture is of major economic significance. While food safety is a dominant concern, consumers are increasingly demanding foods that maintain their natural appearance and flavour, while free of chemical preservatives. HPP offers the food industry the possibility of achieving these twin goals as this technology can lead to reduced microbial loads without detrimentally effecting the nutritional or sensory qualities of the product. The development of food ingredients with novel functional properties offers the dairy industry an opportunity to revitalise existing markets and develop new ones. HPP can lead to modifications in the structure of milk components, in particular protein, which may provide interesting possibilities for the development of high value nutritional and functional ingredients. Hence these projects set out to investigate the potential of HPP in the dairy industry and to identify products and processes to which it could be applied.
    • High pressure technology in the manufacture of minimally-processed meat products

      Troy, Declan J.; Crehan, Clodagh; Mullen, Anne Maria; Desmond, Eoin (Teagasc, 2001-07)
      High hydrostatic pressure processing was applied to raw minced meat prior to product formulation and the results indicate that with 50 MPa pressure it was possible to reduce the salt in frankfurters from 2.5% to 1.5% without compromising the safety and overall quality. Similarly the phosphate content of frankfurters could be reduced from 0.5% to 0.25% after pressure treatment. Cook loss from the treated frankfurters was significantly reduced indicating a higher yield of product due to the high pressure.
    • Historical Grassland Turboveg Database Project. 2067 Relevés recorded by Dr Austin O’ Sullivan 1962 – 1982

      Bourke, David; Hochstrasser, Tamara; Nolan, Stephen; Schulte, Rogier P.; National Parks and Wildlife Service (Teagasc, 01/09/2007)
      The more common grassland types occupy about 70% of the Irish landscape (O’Sullivan, 1982), but information on these vegetation types is rare. Generally, Irish grasslands are distinguished based on the intensity of their management (improved or semi-natural grasslands), and the drainage conditions and acidity of the soil (dry or wet, calcareous or acidic grassland types) (Fossitt, 2000). However, little is known about their floristic composition and the changes in floristic composition over time. The current knowledge on grassland vegetation is mostly based on a survey of Irish grasslands by Dr. Austin O’Sullivan completed in the 1960’s and 1970’s (O’Sullivan, 1982). In this survey O’Sullivan identified Irish grassland types in accordance with the classification of continental European grasslands based on the principles of the School of Phytosociology. O’Sullivan distinguished five main grassland types introducing agricultural criteria as well as floristic criteria into grassland classification (O’Sullivan, 1982). In 1978, O’Sullivan made an attempt at mapping Ireland’s vegetation types including the five grassland types distinguished in his later publication as well as two types of peatland vegetation (Figures 1 and 2). This map was completed using 1960’s soils maps (National Soil Survey, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle) and a subsample of the dataset on the composition of Irish grasslands. Phytosociological classification of vegetation is based on the full floristic composition of the vegetation as determined by assessing the abundance and spatial structure of the plant species in a given area. The actual area of the survey (or relevé) is determined according to strict criteria, which include how representative the sample area is for the wider vegetation (i.e. how many of the species found in the wider area are also present in the survey area).
    • Horizontal transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H7 during cattle housing, survival kinetics in feces and water of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and characterisation of E. coli O157:H7 isolates from cattle faeces and a feedlot environment

      Scott, Lourda; McGee, Philip; Sheridan, James J.; Earley, Bernadette; Leonard, Nola; European Union (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      Escherichia coli O157:H7 can cause severe illness and in some cases leading to death. Cattle are the main reservoir with transmission to humans occurring through contamination of food or the environment. Improved understanding of the survival and transmission and survival of E. coli O157:H7 on the farm is essential for developing future controls of this pathogen. This study showed that transmission of E. coli O157:H7 can occur rapidly in groups of housed cattle, with contamination of the pens and hides occurring in 24 hrs. The inoculation dose for cattle is lower than previously reported. Ingestion of bacteria from the hide through social grooming is important for pathogen transmission in housed cattle along with faecal contamination of the environment. Sampling hide will improve the estimation of prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in pens.
    • Horizontal transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H7 during cattle housing, survival kinetics in feces and water of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and characterisation of E. coli O157:H7 isolates from cattle faeces and a feedlot environment.

      Scott, Lourda; McGee, Philip; Sheridan, James J.; Earley, Bernadette; Leonard, Nola (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      Ruminant livestock, particularly cattle, are considered the primary reservoir of E. coli O157:H7. This study examined the transmission of E. coli O157:H7 within groups of cattle during winter housing. Holstein Friesian steers were grouped in 6 pens of 5 animals. An animal inoculated with, and proven to be shedding a marked strain of E. coli O157:H7 was introduced into each pen. Fecal (rectal swabs) and hide samples (900cm2 right rump) were taken from the thirty six animals throughout the study. Water, feed and gate/partition samples from each pen were also examined. Within 24h of introducing the inoculated animals into the pens, samples collected from the drinking water, pen barriers and animal hides were positive for the pathogen. Within 48h, the hides of 20 of 30 (66%) cohort animals from the 6 pens were contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The first positive fecal samples from the non-inoculated cohort animals were detected three days after the introduction of the inoculated steers. Over the 23 days of the study 15 of 30 cohort animals shed the marked E. coli O157:H7 strain in their feces on at least one occasion. Animal behavior in the pens was monitored over a 12h period using CCTV cameras. The camera footage showed an average of 13 instances of animal grooming in each pen per hour. The study suggests that transmission of E. coli O157:H7 between animals may occur following ingestion of the pathogen at low levels, and that animal hide may be an important source of transmission.
    • Horticultural Growing Media and Plant Nutrition (a)

      Maher, M.J. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      This publication reports on four different studies under the overall title: (1)The effect of type and rate of controlled release fertiliser on the performance of hardy nursery stock in containers; (2) Analysis of substrates containing controlled release fertilisers; (3)The effect of water quality and rate of lime on the growth of nursery stock plants in peat; (4)Effect of suSCon Green on the growth of nursery stock plants
    • Horticultural Growing Media and Plant Nutrition (b)

      Maher, M.J. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The Effect of Planting Density on the Production Of Potato Minitubers Under Protection: Micropropagation of potatoes can be used to bulk up stocks of new cultivars or disease free stocks of existing cultivars. Rooted microplants are grown under protection to produce minitubers which undergo multiplication over a number of generations to produce seed potatoes. The object of these experiments, undertaken for Dubcap Ltd., was to study the effect of planting density on minituber production under greenhouse conditions. They were also designed to serve as a basis for assessing the feasibility for recycling minitubers especially small (8-15 mm) ones which have been shown not to perform satisfactorily under field conditions. The experimental system was designed to serve as a prototype for a commercial operation which would function as a satellite production site remote from the tissue culture laboratory. Development Of A Growing Medium Based On Forest Tree Bark: The aim of these experiments was to develop a plant growing medium based on 100% Sitka spruce bark through first studying the effect of rate of application and source of nitrogen on the composting of milled sitka spruce bark and then optimising the nutrient addition to the composted bark.
    • Hygiene and safety of Irish beef carcasses.

      Kerr, Marie; Sheridan, James J. (Teagasc, 2002-10)
      Investigations were carried out in a number of beef abattoirs in Ireland. Information was obtained on the hygienic status of the carcasses being produced and also on their safety, using the presence of Salmonella as an indicator. The data showed that, in general, the hygiene of the carcasses being produced was of a satisfactory quality and that faecal contamination was low, as indicated by the coliform and E. coli counts. The safety of the carcasses as indicated by the presence of Salmonella was considered to be a cause for concern. The level of contamination by this pathogen of 7.6% was considered to be high and requires investigation. The majority of the Salmonella present on carcasses was S. typhimurium DT104, which is resistant to a range of antibodies. The work was part of an EU project and some results are presented from other partners.
    • Identification of the key compounds responsible for Cheddar cheese flavour

      Beresford, Tom; Wallace, J.; Aherne, Seamus; Drinan, Finbarr; Eason, D.; Corcoran, M.O.; Mulholland, E.; Hannon, John A. (Teagasc, 2000-09-01)
      There is a poor understanding of the relationship between organoleptic assessment of cheese and quantitative analysis of flavour compounds. Further, the contribution of particular cheese-making parameters such as ripening temperature and starter culture has not been fully elucidated. During the ripening of most cheese varieties complex chemical conversions occur within the cheese matrix. In most cheese varieties breakdown of protein is the most important flavour development pathway. The primary cheese protein, casein, is degraded enzymatically to short peptides and free amino acids. The agents primarily responsible for these conversions are the residual rennet that is retained in the cheese curd at the end of the manufacturing phase and the proteinases and peptidases that are associated with the starter bacteria. While the rate and degree of proteolysis are of vital significance for desired flavour development, the direct products of proteolysis do not fully define cheese flavour. Much research is now demonstrating that the further biochemical and chemical conversions of the products of proteolysis, in particular the amino acids, are necessary for full flavour development. The products produced by these pathways are volatile at low boiling points and are thus released during mastication of the cheese in the mouth. Many of these volatile compounds contribute to the flavour sensation experienced by the consumer. A very wide spectrum of such compounds have been isolated from cheese, in excess of two hundred in some cheese varieties. It is now generally accepted that there is no individual compound which defines cheese flavour completely and that the flavour sensation is the result of numerous compounds present in the correct proportions. This has become known as the Component Balance Theory . The application of modern analytical techniques as proposed in this project would provide a greater understanding of the significant flavour compounds in Cheddar cheese and help to identify the impact of specific cheese-making parameters such as starter flora and ripening temperature on the production of volatile flavour compounds. This data would assist the general programme on flavour improvement of cheese which should ultimately benefit the cheese manufacturer. Hence this project set out to develop methods to identify the key flavour compounds in Cheddar cheese. These techniques would then be applied to experimental and commercial cheeses during ripening in an effort to identify key compounds and the influence of starter cultures and ripening temperature on their production.
    • Identification Of Environmental Variables For Use In Monitoring For The Evaluation Of The Rural Environment Protection Scheme

      Finn, John; Kavanagh, B.; Flynn, M.; Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 2001-EEA/DS10-M2 (Teagasc, 01/04/2005)
      The aim of this study was to identify and select quantitative environmental attributes for a monitoring programme that may be integrated into an environmental evaluation of Ireland’s agri-environmental scheme. This was achieved primarily by reviewing a range of agri-environmental indicators and suggesting indicators that would be appropriate for monitoring the REPS. The study conducted a desk review to collate information on current best practice in monitoring for environmental quality. A Project Group (comprising representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], Department of Agriculture and Food [DAF], Teagasc, and the project supervisors) advised on the ongoing development of the project. There was a consultation process with national experts, and with a selection of stakeholder organisations with an interest in monitoring the environmental impact of the REPS.
    • The Identification of Sites and Farming Systems Prone to Pollution by Surface Runoff.

      Ryan, T. Declan (Teagasc, 2000-09-01)
      There is mounting evidence that overland flow from land contributes to pollution of surface water. No convenient method exists to identify fields that generate overland flow. Therefore the WT model has been developed to predict overland flow from any small parcel of land. Water table tubes and flow meters were installed in three sites in Wexford and Carlow. The water table data, along with rainfall and evaporation data, were entered into the WT model to calculate overland flow and other parameters over a 7-month period. Additional measurements of water table level were taken using maximum level indicators with a view to reducing field costs. All three sites had layers of sand in the sub-soil. It is likely that the sand allowed water to flow under the soil and contributed to overland flow. Values from the WT model matched the field measurements of water table closely and predicted overland flow with reasonable accuracy. One pipe in each field was identified which could indicate when the field was sufficiently dry for spreading slurry. The maximum level indicators recorded water table accurately. However, the lack of synchronisation of this data, with weather data, reduced slightly the precision of the model. The WT model can identify fields prone to overland flow and show when a field is sufficiently dry to accept slurry. Proposed economies promise to reduce the cost of investigation.
    • Impact analysis of the CAP reform on main agricultural commodities

      Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; European Commission; 150267-2005-FIED-NL (Teagasc, 15/03/2007)
      This study has been carried out for the European Commission's Joint Research Centre to analyze agricultural policies at Member State, EU15 and EU25 levels as well as for Bulgaria and Romania. The modelling tool allows for projections and policy analysis (up to a 10 year horizon) for the enlarged EU.
    • The Impact of Direct Payments on Farm Income Distribution.

      Frawley, J.P.; Keeney, Mary (Teagasc, 2000-11-01)
      The switch in emphasis from market support systems in the 1992 CAP reform toward direct payments resulted in a dramatic increase in financial support terms, from £336.7 million in 1991 to £915.3 million in 1999 (current prices). The impact of this change in Irish agricultural policy was to increase substantially the dependency of farmers, with the exception of dairy farmers, on the ‘cheque in the post’ for a farm income. It is the impact of these changes on the distribution of farm income which is of concern in this study. In line with these policy changes the proportion of average family farm income derived from the market (as opposed to direct payments) decreased from 73.3 per cent in 1993 to 37.1 per cent in 1997. At the same time the corresponding proportions for direct payments increased from 26.7 per cent to 62.9 per cent. Analysis of the distribution of family farm income by deciles (based on FFI) and for all farms indicates a more equitable distribution of income between 1993 and 1997. This improvement in equity is attributed to the effects of direct payments on farm incomes. Analysis decomposing the individual effects of selected measures show that (i) the suckler cow premia, and (ii) the headage payments (Livestock headage payments in the Disadvantaged Areas) were the most effective measures in favouring income distribution equity. Cross compliance schemes (REPS and extensification) and the special beef premia had a more moderate effect in terms of equity while the arable aid payments contributed least to farm income equity. The market-derived income component had a high negative effect on equity of farm income distribution. The inclusion of a high proportion of dairy farmers among those with high farm incomes is a likely factor in this respect.
    • The impact of feed resource costs on the relative competitiveness of beef with other meats

      Dunne, William; Shanahan, Ultan; O'Connell, John J. (Teagasc, 01/11/2008)
      These reforms represented a major turning point in fundamental structure of EU agricultural policy. This, at the time of implementation, created much uncertainty at both institutional and farm level in relation to future feed resource costs, cattle and beef prices and related market outlooks. However, as this report shows, the reality for Irish cattle farmers was rather different. As a result much of the research effort during the lifespan of the project was diverted to explaining the causes of the unforeseen outcomes together with the implications of policy decisions and related market developments.
    • The impact of grazing cattle on soil physical properties and nutrient concentrations in overland flow from pasture, Part B

      Kurz, Isabelle; O’Reilly, Conor; Tunney, Hubert; Bourke, David; Environmental Protection Agency (Teagasc, 01/06/2007)
      The loss of nutrients from agricultural land to water bodies is a serious concern in many countries. To gain information on the contribution of grazing animals to diffuse nutrient losses from pasture areas to water, this study looked at the impact of cattle on nutrient concentrations in overland flow and on soil hydrology (bulk density, macroporosity and resistance to penetration). Rainfall simulations to produce overland flow were conducted and soil physical measurements were taken on experimental plots assigned to one of two treatments: 1) cattle had unrestricted access to the plot; 2) cattle could graze the plot but they could neither walk on the plot area nor deposit excrements on it. Areas to which the cattle had free access were characterised by 57%-83% lower macroporosity, by 8%-17% higher bulk density and by 27%-50% higher resistance to penetration than areas from which the cattle were excluded. The nutrients in overland flow from grassland that were affected by the presence of grazing animals were mainly the particulate nitrogen, the organic phosphorus and the potassium concentrations. Overall, the presence of cattle had a longer lasting effect on the soil hydrological parameters measured than on the nutrient concentrations in overland flow.
    • Impact of Livestock on Hill Environment

      Walsh, Michael (Teagasc, 2002-01-01)
      The hill and mountain landscape of western Ireland is an area of high scenic value as well as contributing to the livelihood of local farmers mainly through extensive grazing. Measures that were intended to support lamb prices led to increased ewe numbers. Public concern attributed this increase to an apparent deterioration in the status of the semi-natural vegetation and to an increase in the rate of soil erosion. In the absence of an existing databank, Teagasc undertook a research programme to quantify the impact of hill sheep on the semi-natural vegetation, the progress of soil erosion and changes in certain weather elements e.g. ‘driving rain’. A detailed database of the physical background (physiography and soils) of the Teagasc hill sheep farm, Leenaun, was compiled on the basis of a grid, 100 m x 100 m. Changes in the frequency of vegetation on the unimproved hill were monitored, 1995-2002, by point quadrat. Ten permanent exclosures representing the main vegetation types and a controlled grazing experiment on the upper steep slope were established. Sequential aerial photography (1973/7-1996/8) for selected sites in western counties and wind and rain data (1957-2000) for five western synoptic stations were obtained. The classification of the peatland and heathland habitats was considered. Analysis of data highlighted a range of issues among which were the physical complexity and fragility of the landscape, the sustainability of the hill sheep system on the Teagasc hill sheep farm, the beneficial effects of controlled grazing, the progressive erosion of hill soils and an increase in high intensity levels of ‘driving rain’. The classification of the habitats, peatland and heathland, should encompass other forms of biodiversity as well as flora. The sustainable use of this landscape requires a deep knowledge of the of the grazing management system, which increasingly involves part-time farming, and its impact on the soils and semi-natural vegetation.
    • The impact of the grazing animal on phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and suspended solids loss from grazed pastures, Part A

      Tunney, Hubert; Kurz, Isabelle; Bourke, David; O'Reilly, Colin; Jeffrey, D.W.; Dowding, P.; Foy, B.; Kilpatrick, D.J.; Haygarth, P. (Teagasc, 01/06/2007)
      In Ireland 90% of the 4.2 million ha of farmland is grassland. Phosphorus deficiency limited grassland production in Ireland and this was corrected by chemical fertiliser use in the 1960s and 1970s. The increased inputs of fertilisers led to increased intensification of grassland with a doubling of grass yield and of grazing animal numbers, from about 3 million to over 6 million livestock units. There is little information on relative contribution of increased chemical fertiliser use compared to increased grazing animal numbers on phosphorus loss to water. The main objective of this study was to obtain information on nutrient loss, particularly phosphorus, in overland flow from cut and grazed grassland plots, with a range of soil test phosphorus levels over three years and implications.