Now showing items 1-20 of 2640

    • A comparative study on seed physiology and germination requirements for 15 species of Eucalyptus

      Afroze, Farhana; Douglas, Gerry C.; Grogan, Helen; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 15/S/759 (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-09-23)
      Seed physiology of 15 Eucalyptus species of interest for cut foliage plantations was unknown and therefore evaluated. The viability and vigour of seeds and germination potential of 15 Eucalyptus species was determined by using a tetrazolium (TZ) staining test, and the results were compared to a germination test. In a separate experiment, seeds of each lot were subjected to either 0 or 4-week cold stratification at 4 ± 1 °C to investigate their potential stratification requirement. After stratification, seeds were then allowed to germinate at 22 ± 1 °C with 16 h lighting per day for 36 days. Seed viability and vigour were checked by evaluating % root, cotyledon and first true leaves emergence, and the speed of emergence, in the germination test. The germination percentages varied with the species. Seed stratification with the interaction of seed species lots significantly affected both viability and vigour. The seed viability of the different species ranged from 9 to 100% and 2 to 100%, for the TZ test and germination test, respectively, with a high correlation (R2 = 0.89) between the two. Physiology tests revealed that cold stratification of seed was not required for the 15 species to maximise their germination potential and growth in Irish and British climate.
    • Prunus laurocerasus - A crop walkers guide to pests and diseases

      Horticulture Development Department; Grogan, Helen; McGuinness, Brian; Whelton, Andy; Baars, Jan-Robert; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 15S759 (Teagasc, 2021)
      The large glossy leaves of Prunus laurocerasus are affected by a variety of problems including pests, diseases and nutrition. The most common issue is commonly referred to as ‘shothole’ due to the nature of the disease symptoms and its’ resemblance to shotgun damage. The causal agents of ‘shothole disease’ vary considerably and this will affect how you approach your disease management strategy.
    • Performance of lactating suckler cows of diverse genetic merit and genotype under a seasonal pasture-based system

      McCabe, S.; McHugh, Noirin; O'Connell, N. E.; Prendiville, Robert (Teagasc, 2021-12-21)
      The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of genetic merit of the national Irish maternal index and genotype (i.e. beef vs. beef × dairy [BDX]) of beef cows and subsequent performance of their progeny. With the exception that high genetic merit cows produced 0.57 kg more milk and tended to have 0.04 of a lower body condition score (BCS), no significant differences were observed between cows of diverse genetic merit. Differences between contrasting cow genotype were apparent. Beef cows were 50 kg heavier and had a BCS 0.27 greater than BDX cows. The BDX cows produced 1.67 kg more milk and had a greater 24-d submission rate than beef cows. Calves generated from BDX cows were 19 kg heavier at weaning and were worth €51 more than progeny generated from beef cows. Beef cow progeny, however, had 0.77 of a greater conformation score at slaughter than BDX. While differences were observed across cows of different replacement strategies, results from the current study showed that genetic selection for national maternal index had no effect on the overall performance of suckler cows in a pasture-based spring-calving system.
    • Evaluating the effectiveness of commercial teat disinfectant products sold in Ireland using the disc diffusion method

      Fitzpatrick, S.R.; Garvey, M.; Flynn, J.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; 2016054 (Teagasc, 2021-06-04)
      Evaluation of teat disinfectant products for their effectiveness against the most prevalent mastitis-causing bacteria is important to identify the most effective ingredients against specific bacterial strains. Ninety-six commercially available teat disinfectant products were tested against three bacterial strains associated with mastitis in Ireland (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus uberis and Escherichia coli) using the disc diffusion method. Products were reclassified by active ingredients (n = 9) for analysis. These ingredient groups included: chlorhexidine (n = 25), chlorine dioxide (n = 5), diamine (n = 1), iodine (n = 13), iodine combined with lactic acid (n = 5), lactic acid (n = 15), lactic acid combined with chlorhexidine (n = 21), lactic acid combined with hydrogen peroxide (n = 1) and lactic acid combined with salicylic acid (n = 10). The ingredient group chlorine dioxide resulted in the greatest zones of inhibition for all three bacterial strains. An individual product containing a combination of lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide resulted in the greatest zone of inhibition for Sta. aureus and Str. uberis, whereas a specific product within the chlorine dioxide group resulted in the greatest zones of inhibition for E. coli. High concentrations of active ingredient did not necessarily increase the effectiveness for the majority of teat disinfectant products. It is possible to use the disc diffusion method to evaluate/screen a large number of teat disinfectant products prior to conducting field trials to establish the products’ ability to reduce intramammary infections (IMI).
    • An examination of the effect of autumn closing date on over-winter herbage production and spring yield

      Looney, C.; Hennessy, D.; Wingler, A.; Claffey, A.; Egan, M.; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship programme (Teagasc, 2021-06-03)
      Altering autumn management affects the herbage mass available in spring. An experiment was established to determine the effect of five autumn closing dates (CDs) on herbage production, herbage quality, leaf, stem and dead proportions and tiller density over winter. In the study 50% of the herbage available in spring was accounted for by autumn CD. Each 1 d extra a sward was closed from 25 September to 9 December increased herbage mass by 16 kg DM/ha in spring. Swards closed earlier (25 September–26 October) had consistently higher herbage masses in spring (1,301 kg DM/ha) compared to swards closed later (11 November–9 December; 703 kg DM/ha). Later closed swards had greater herbage quality compared to earlier closed swards (organic matter digestibility = 852 and 825 g/kg DM, respectively) due to increased stem and dead material in the grazing horizon of earlier closed swards. There was no effect of autumn CD on sward quality in the subsequent defoliation in spring. However, following the initial spring grazing there was an effect of autumn CD on subsequent grass growth rates; swards closed in October had a lower growth rate (33 kg DM/ha per day) compared to swards closed in November and early December (49 kg DM/ha per day). Results indicate that earlier autumn closing is beneficial to meet high-feed demand in spring but can affect sward quality and growth rates in spring.
    • The occurrence of herbicide-resistant Avena fatua (wild oats) populations to ACCase-inhibiting herbicides in Ireland

      Byrne, R.; Vijaya Bhaskar, A.V.; Spink, J.; Freckleton, R.; Neve, P.; Barth, Susanne (Teagasc, 2021-06-03)
      Following growers’ reports of herbicide control problems, populations of 30 wild oats, Avena fatua, were collected from the south-east main arable counties of Ireland in 2016 and investigated for the occurrence and potential for herbicide resistance to acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitors pinoxaden, propaquizafop and cycloxydim, as well as acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitor mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron. Plant survival ≥20% was considered as the discriminating threshold between resistant and susceptible populations, when plants were treated with full recommended field rates of ACCase/ALS inhibitors. Glasshouse sensitivity screens revealed 2 out of 30 populations were cross-resistant to all three ACCase inhibitors. While three populations were cross-resistant to both pinoxaden and propaquizafop, and additionally, two populations were resistant to propaquizafop only. Different degree of resistance and cross-resistance between resistant populations suggest the involvement of either different point mutations or more than one resistance mechanism. Nevertheless, all populations including the seven ACCase-resistant populations were equally susceptible to ALS inhibitor. An integrated weed management (cultural/non-chemical control tactics and judicious use of herbicides) approach is strongly recommended to minimize the risk of herbicide resistance evolution.
    • Factors and conditions influencing the willingness of Irish consumers to try insects: a pilot study

      Kane, B.; Dermiki, M. (Teagasc, 2021-03-02)
      Entomophagy is being explored as a sustainable food source in Western countries to combat the ever-increasing effects of climate change. Studies conducted in various European countries determine the factors affecting willingness to consume insects. The current study aims to gain the first insight on this topic in Ireland, a country with a long farming tradition. A survey including open- and closed-ended questions was developed and sent to students and staff of an institute of technology in the West of Ireland. The willingness to consume insects and the factors affecting willingness to consume them under different conditions were assessed. It was found that less neophobic males who do not follow a particular diet were most receptive to entomophagy. People who were willing to try insects were less willing if the insects were to be eaten whole. People who were not willing were more inclined to do so if they were disguised or used to feed livestock. Food neophobia, disgust and safety concerns were barriers to acceptance. Tasty products containing disguised insects in familiar foods are the most likely to be accepted. Education and taste tests are recommended first steps to introducing entomophagy. Using insects to feed livestock has the potential to improve acceptance of entomophagy by introducing insects in the supply chain. However, further research should be conducted to assess acceptance of this amongst Irish farmers. The current study agrees with findings of studies conducted in other European countries and reveals the conditions under which insects could become acceptable among Irish consumers.
    • Ecological value of different vegetated strip types in providing valuable insect-rich habitats for grey partridge chicks

      Volpato, A.; Moran, J.; National Parks and Wildlife Service Grey Partridge Project (Teagasc, 2021-12-14)
      The intensification and specialisation of agriculture has contributed to farmland wildlife decline, including farmland birds. Grey partridge is a farmland species which has experienced a significant decline across Europe in recent decades. Chick survival rate is a key determinant of grey partridge population change and depends essentially on the availability of insect food. In this study, ground-dwelling and canopy-dwelling insects were collected using pitfall trapping and sweep netting methodologies, respectively, on different strip types in an area established for the conservation of grey partridge. The aim was to further our understanding of the value of different vegetated strip types in providing insect-rich habitats for grey partridge chicks. Overall, wildflower strip (WS) provided the greatest insect abundance. Significantly more ground-dwelling insects were found on WS, natural regeneration (NS) and leguminous strips (LS) than on grass strip (GS). Canopy-dwelling insects were also significantly more abundant on WS compared to all other strip types. This study highlights that WSs may represent important habitats in providing insect-rich food for grey partridge chicks and sowing these strips may therefore play a key role in decreasing chick mortality and supporting grey partridge conservation. It also demonstrates that other different vegetated strip types may still provide strip-specific insect taxa, in addition to other valuable resources. This study recommends a complex mosaic of different strip types to provide key resources for grey partridge, such as insect and plant food, nesting habitats and overwinter cover.
    • A time of transition: changes in Irish food behaviour and potential implications due to the COVID-19 pandemic

      Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, Sinead N; McCarthy, M.; Corona Cooking Study Group (Teagasc, 2021-05-13)
      Consumers’ food choice decisions are generally relatively stable over time; consumers engage in habitual decision-making due to the high frequency of such decisions for efficiency reasons. As a result, habits are strong predictors of eating behaviour. However, changes in the life of the individual or the external environment can result in more conscious consideration of food choice motives and a transition to new patterns of behaviour to fit the new context. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is examined in this paper as a particularly useful case of how a change in context affects food choice trajectories. Drawing on results from an online survey of 651 food consumers in Ireland, it examines food planning, shopping, preparation and eating behaviour, including stockpiling and influences on decision-making. Overall, it finds significant evidence of a transition towards new patterns of behaviours, with two distinct clusters identified – the “Covid copers” and the “restless restrictors”. For both groups, the shopping experience has become stressful resulting in reduced frequency of shopping and higher levels of planning. Conversely, time pressures related to cooking have reduced, with enjoyment associated with such activities. This is also reflected in stockpiling behaviour; the top three foods most likely to have been stockpiled in Ireland were pasta/rice, eggs and flour, reflecting the nation’s desire to bake and cook during the pandemic. These behaviours are discussed in the context of emerging supply chain actor responses, with considerations for future strategic decisions identified, along with some opportunities for public health nutrition interventions.
    • Changes in sward structure, plant morphology and growth of perennial ryegrass–white clover swards over winter

      Guy, C.; Gilliland, T. J.; Hennessy, D.; Coughlan, F.; McCarthy, B.; Dairy Research Ireland.; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme (Teagasc, 2021-11-16)
      White clover (Trifolium repens L.) is at a disadvantage to perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.; PRG) due to its limited cold tolerance and low growth rates at colder temperatures, which can affect subsequent spring herbage dry matter (DM) availability. The effect of PRG ploidy on white clover morphology and growth over winter, and its subsequent recovery in spring and the following growing season, is poorly understood. The objective of this study was to compare the effect of white clover inclusion and PRG ploidy on sward structure, plant morphology and growth of PRG–white clover swards over winter. Four swards (diploid PRG only, tetraploid PRG only, diploid PRG–white clover and tetraploid PRG–white clover) were evaluated over a full winter period (November–February) at a farmlet scale. The PRG ploidy had no effect on herbage DM production, white clover content or tissue turnover (P > 0.05) over winter. However, white clover inclusion caused a significant decrease in herbage DM production (P < 0.001; −254 kg DM/ha) and tiller density (P < 0.001; −1,953 tillers/m2) over winter. Stolon mass was not affected by PRG ploidy (P > 0.05); however, stolon length and number of leaves per stolon were affected by PRG ploidy (P < 0.05). Including white clover in PRG swards can alter winter sward dynamics, potentially causing difficulties in subsequent spring management and performance due to the reduced over-winter growth rate when compared with PRG.
    • Embedding animal welfare in sustainability assessment: an indicator approach

      Brennan, M.; Hennessy, Thia; Dillon, Emma Jane (Teagasc, 2021-11-17)
      In line with growing consumer interest in sustainable food production, a number of farm-level sustainability indicator studies have been published in recent years. Despite the importance of animal welfare, many such frameworks fail to adequately take account of it, mostly due to difficulties in accessing suitable data. This paper demonstrates that it is possible to develop indicators of animal welfare that can be embedded within a wider sustainability framework using a representative farm-level dataset such as the European Union (EU) Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) for Ireland, the Teagasc National Farm Survey. The paper presents a set of sustainability indicators for dairy farms in Ireland for the 2014–2017 period and examines the impact of policy reform on sustainability performance. Headline results show that welfare standards on dairy farms in Ireland have remained stable over the period despite the considerable intensification of the dairy sector following EU milk quota removal. Furthermore, dairy farms that have expanded herd size significantly have improved welfare standards more than farms that have not increased production. An analysis of synergies and trade-offs between the various aspects of sustainability reveals that positive correlations exist between welfare standards and economic and environmental performance. The analysis facilitates the identification of win-win farm-level strategies that can be adopted to improve economic, environmental and animal welfare outcomes. The framework developed here presents opportunities for evaluating policy impacts at the farm level on various aspects of sustainability. The use of the FADN demonstrates the capacity to extend such an approach across the EU.
    • Enhancing muscle fatty acid profile by pasture finishing within a dairy-origin calf-to-steer beef production system and its potential to authenticate the dietary history of the cattle

      Moloney, Aidan; Keane, Michael G.; Monahan, F. J.; O'Callaghan, Tom (Teagasc, 2021-11-18)
      The influence of modifying a traditional 24-mo dairy steer calf to beef production system on the fatty acid composition of the longissimus muscle and its potential to authenticate beef provenance was examined. Fifty-four male calves (n = 18 per sire breed), progeny of Holstein-Friesian cows mated with Holstein-Friesian (HF), Aberdeen Angus (AA) and Belgian Blue (BB) bulls were at pasture from March until August of their second year when they were assigned to a 3 (breed types) × 3 (finishing strategies) factorial experiment. The three finishing strategies were (i) pasture only for a further 94 d prior to slaughter (21 mo of age) (Grass), (ii) concentrates ad libitum indoors for 94 d prior to slaughter (21 mo of age) (EC) and (iii) pasture only for a further 94 d followed by concentrates ad libitum indoors for 98 d prior to slaughter (24 mo of age) (LC). Compared to EC, muscle from Grass had a lower intramuscular fat concentration and omega-6: omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ratio and higher proportion of conjugated linoleic acid. A longer period at pasture pre-concentrate finishing increased the concentration of omega-3 PUFA which was still lower than in Grass. To maximise the omega-3 PUFA concentration, a late-maturing breed is more appropriate while to maximise conjugated linoleic acid, an early-maturing breed is more appropriate and both should be finished on grass. Chemometric analysis confirmed that the fatty acid profile can authenticate “Grass-Finished” beef per se and has potential to distinguish “Concentrate-Finished” beef based on the length of grazing prior to finishing, but not distinguish between sire breeds.
    • Manipulation of the pre-partum diet of dairy cows to promote early adaptation to perennial ryegrass herbage

      Russo, V.M.; Wales, W.J.; Leury, B.J.; Hannah, M.C.; Kennedy, Emer; Teagasc; Agriculture Victoria Research; Dairy Australia; University of Melbourne (Teagasc, 2021-11-18)
      The diet of dairy cows in Ireland traditionally changes abruptly from predominantly pasture silage before calving to grazed perennial ryegrass immediately after calving. This potentially leads to problems with adaptation of microbes in the rumen with consequences of reduced intake and ultimately lower milk production. This experiment aimed to determine if introducing first-lactation dairy cows to perennial ryegrass herbage in the final weeks of pregnancy, thus eliminating a major dietary change at calving, could improve the adaptation process, potentially increasing dry matter intake (DMI) and milk production in early lactation. Three weeks prior to their expected calving date, 14 spring calving dairy cows were assigned to one of two treatments (n = 7): pasture silage pre-partum and perennial ryegrass herbage post-partum, or perennial ryegrass herbage both pre- and post-partum. Treatment diets were fed for 11 (±7) d pre-partum and for 14 (±0) d post-partum. For both treatments, DMI increased post-partum, but there was no difference between treatments, pre- or post-partum (5.9 and 8.8 kg DM/cow per day, respectively). There were no differences in milk yield or composition between the treatments. Body condition score declined following parturition but there were no differences between treatments. Plasma non-esterified fatty acids, glucose and β-hydroxybutyrate were also unaffected by treatment but did indicate a state of negative energy balance in early lactation. The results of this experiment suggest that pre-partum adaptation to perennial ryegrass herbage would not benefit milk production in first-lactation dairy cows in early lactation in Irish dairy farms employing this system.
    • Using a Technology Acceptance Model to investigate what factors influence farmer adoption of a nutrient management plan

      McCormack, Michele; Buckley, Cathal; Kelly, E. (Teagasc, 2021-11-17)
      The agricultural sector will play a key role in reaching the goals set out in the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, and so understanding farmer behaviour in relation to farm management best practice is important. In this paper, we investigate if the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) can predict farmer adoption of an online nutrient management plan (NMP). A NMP has the potential to reduce the risk of nutrient transfer from agricultural land, without negatively affecting farm-level profitability. The TAM identifies two psychological constructs, perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEOU), which are believed to be key factors in technology adoption. The data were collected through a survey from 358 farms by a team of professional data recorders in 2015. Results indicate that PU and PEOU of a NMP are positively and significantly related to a farmer’s intention to adopt and use the technology in the future. However, PU, which captures the perceived benefits in terms of usefulness, is the main driver of technology adoption. Results show that those farmers who adopt and use the technology are more likely to have larger farms and are full-time farmers. They use agricultural extension services and the farm is also more likely to be the main contributor to overall household income. The research recommends that the usefulness of a NMP, in terms of increased profitability, improving nutrient management practices, labour and time-saving advantages, should be highlighted and clearly communicated to farmers.
    • Exploring the potential of ingestive behaviour, body measurements, thermal imaging, heart rate and blood pressure to predict dry matter intake in grazing dairy cows

      Lahart, B.; Kennedy, E.; Williams, M.; Liddane, M.; Boland, T.M.; O’Sullivan, K.; Buckley, Frank; Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; 13/S/496 (Teagasc, 2021-05-07)
      The objective of this study was to develop and validate models to predict dry matter intake (DMI) of grazing dairy cows using animal energy sinks and status traits in combination with traits related to grazing behaviour, body measurements, thermal imaging, heart rate and blood pressure. The dataset used to develop the models comprised 33 measurements from 113 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. Multivariable regression models were constructed incorporating each independent variable into a benchmark model incorporating the energy sinks (milk yield [MY], fat %, protein % and body weight [BW]) and status traits (feeding treatment, parity and calving day of year). Of the 33 variables tested, 10 showed an association with DMI (P < 0.25). These variables were incorporated into a backward linear regression model. Variables were retained in this model if P < 0.05. Grazing bout duration and rumination mastication rate were retained in the final model. The inclusion of these variables in the model increased DMI prediction by 0.01 (coefficient of determination [R2] = 0.85) compared to the benchmark model alone (R2 = 0.84). The models were applied to data recorded on an independent herd of 51 dairy cows. The R2 upon validation was 0.80 for the benchmark model and 0.79 for the model incorporating rumination mastication rate and grazing bout duration in combination with the benchmark variables. The separation of grazing bout duration and rumination mastication rate to predict DMI revealed rumination mastication rate slightly increases predictive accuracy upon external validation (R2 = 0.81), whereas grazing bout duration did not (R2 = 0.78). This suggests that grazing bout duration is not a robust trait for DMI prediction. Results from this study suggest that rumination mastication rate can slightly increase the accuracy of DMI prediction surpassing known energy sinks and status traits.
    • A note on the early transcriptional response in leaves and root of potato plants to cadmium exposure

      Mengist, M.F.; Byrne, Stephen; Griffin, Denis; Milbourne, Dan; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11SF308 (Teagasc, 2021-03-26)
      Potato plants can accumulate a high amount of cadmium (Cd) in the tuber when grown in soils rich in Cd. The molecular mechanisms governing Cd accumulation in the potato plant are poorly understood. Here we performed an RNA-sequencing experiment to identify genes differentially expressed in the leaf and root of potato during early stages of Cd exposure. Results did not identify any significant transcriptional response in leaves under 1 or 5 mg kg−1 Cd after 72 h. However, in the roots we did identify 2,846 genes that were significantly differentially expressed after 72 h between plants grown in 5 mg kg−1 Cd and controls. These included genes involved in photosynthesis and autophagy being up-regulated, and genes involved in intracellular transport being down-regulated. This study is the first report on the transcriptome-wide response of potato to Cd stress, providing insight into the molecular mechanisms involved in the response.
    • Effect of applying crust-freezing after skin-packaging on the natural microflora of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) during storage at low temperatures

      Pedrós-Garrido, S.; Condón-Abanto, S.; Calanche, J.B.; Beltrán, J.A.; Lyng, J.G.; Bolton, Declan; Brunton, Nigel; Whyte, P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13F458 (Teagasc, 2021-03-26)
      The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of crust-freezing (CF) on fresh salmon fillets in skin-packaging during storage at −2.0°C. After CF, all treated samples and untreated controls were stored in a refrigerated cabinet for 20 d. Sampling was carried out at days 0, 2, 6, 8, 10, 14 and 20 in order to analyse total volatile basic nitrogen (TVB-N) and levels of mesophilic and psychrophilic viable counts (MVC and PVC). Enterobacteriaceae (ENT), lactic acid bacteria (LAB), H2S-producing bacteria (SPB) and Pseudomonas spp. (PSE). No significant differences in TVB-N were found between samples except for those taken on day 20 where TVB-N levels of CF samples were lower than controls. Our results suggest that ENT might be the limiting microbial group to determine the end of shelf-life. Thus, if this group is used as an indicator of acceptability, the shelf-life of salmon can be extended from 8 to 20 d when skin-packed and then treated with CF.
    • A preliminary study of Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157, Enterococcus faecalis and Clostridium spp. in Irish cattle

      Russell, L.; Galindo, C.P.; Whyte, P.; Bolton, Declan; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; 14/SF/487; 2014239 (Teagasc, 2021-06-03)
      Although Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Enterococcus faecalis and Clostridium spp. present a significant food safety and/or spoilage issue for the beef sector, there are limited data on their prevalence in Irish cattle. The objectives of this preliminary study were to investigate the distribution (percentage of farms positive) of Salmonella spp., E. coli O157, L. monocytogenes, E. faecalis and Clostridium spp. and the overall prevalence (%) of these bacteria in cattle on a small cohort of Irish beef farms. A total of 121 fresh bovine faecal samples were obtained on 10 randomly selected beef farms in the Northeast of Ireland and tested for the target pathogens using standard culture-based methods. Presumptive positives were confirmed using previously published polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods. Salmonella were not detected in any of the samples. E. coli O157, L. monocytogenes, E. faecalis and Clostridium spp. were present on 50%, 40%, 100% and 100% of farms, respectively, with overall (all farms) prevalence rates in cattle of 9%, 8.2%, 61.9% and 87.6%, respectively. This study suggests that E. coli O157 may be more prevalent than previously thought and L. monocytogenes, E. faecalis and Clostridium spp. are widespread in Irish beef animals.
    • Fertiliser characteristics of stored spent mushroom substrate as a sustainable source of nutrients and organic matter for tillage, grassland and agricultural soils

      Velusami, B.; Jordan, S.N.; Curran, T.; Grogan, Helen; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme (Teagasc, 2021-05-12)
      Spent mushroom substrate (SMS) is an organic manure that can be used with advantage in agriculture. Under European Union (EU) (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, SMS cannot be applied to land over the winter months and must be stored on concrete surfaces, either covered or uncovered, to prevent nutrient-rich runoff seeping into groundwater. Spent mushroom substrate at four storage facilities, two covered and two uncovered, was analysed for physical and chemical characteristics after storage for up to 12 mo. Significant differences (P<0.05) were identified for all parameters across the four sites, except for pH, but there were no consistent differences that correlated with uncovered or covered storage conditions. The content of nitrogen (N) and manganese (Mn) was significantly lower in uncovered SMS, while the content of iron (Fe) and copper (Cu) was significantly higher. The chemical nitrogen-phospous-potassium (NPK) fertiliser equivalent value of SMS, when applied at a rate of 10 t/ha, was between €105 and €191 per hectare. Nitrogen-phospous-potassium concentrations per kg wet weight were all higher in SMS that was stored under cover, meaning higher chemical fertiliser savings are possible. The high pH of stored SMS (7.8–8.1) means it could be used with good effect on acid soils instead of ground limestone. The low bulk density of SMS (0.545–0.593 g/cm3) makes it an ideal amendment to soils to improve soil structure and quality. There is some variability in the nutrient content of SMS from different sources, so it is advisable to get the material analysed when including in nutrient management plans.
    • Engaging with selective dry cow therapy: understanding the barriers and facilitators perceived by Irish farmers

      Huey, Sarah; Kavanagh, Michaela; Regan, Aine; Dean, Moira; McKernan, Clare; McCoy, Finola; Ryan, Eoin G.; Caballero-Villalobos, Javier; McAloon, Catherine I.; Animal Health Ireland (Biomed Central, 2021-10-23)
      Background Selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) is widely promoted in dairy farming as a method to reduce antimicrobial usage. New legislation introduced by the European Union will restrict and regulate the prophylactic and metaphylactic use of antibiotics from January 2022. Blanket dry cow therapy continues to be a practice engaged in by many farmers in Ireland and for many of these farmers, moving towards SDCT would require a significant infrastructural, behavioural and/or cultural change on their farm. Existing research has reported the important need to understand farmers’ motivations to initiate any substantial behaviour change. However, it is currently unknown what farmers know, think and believe about SDCT in Ireland. The aim of this study was to use qualitative methods to explore what barriers and facilitators farmers perceived to exist with SDCT and explore if they had chosen to implement SDCT after voluntarily participating in a funded dry cow consult with a trained veterinarian, with the objective of maximising the dry period udder health performance and moving safely to SDCT. Results In this study, 19 farmers were contacted, and telephone interviews were conducted regarding farmers’ beliefs about the consequences of SDCT. Audio recordings were professionally transcribed verbatim and analysed qualitatively using an inductive thematic analysis. The analysis identified 6 barriers and 6 facilitators to implementing SDCT. A significant fear of increasing mastitis incidence was evident that caused reluctance towards SDCT and reliance on antibiotics. Mixed perceptions on SDCT, infrastructure limitations, a perceived lack of preventive advice as well as peer influence were presented as barriers to SDCT. Farmers can build confidence when a graded approach to SDCT is implemented, which could help overcome the fear of SDCT and reliance on antibiotics. Regulatory pressure, high standards of farm hygiene and use of targeted veterinary consults were found to facilitate SDCT. Education was suggested to motivate farmers in the future uptake of SDCT. Despite cited negative influences, peer influence can be utilised to encourage the farming community. Conclusions This study prioritises areas to facilitate the major behaviour change required as a dairy industry in order to move from blanket dry cow therapy to SDCT.