Now showing items 1-20 of 2541

    • The Double Spade Method: a ‘mini-profile’ visual soil evaluation technique

      Emmet-Booth, J.P.; Forristal, P.D.; Fenton, Owen; Bondi, G.; Holden, N.M (2021-11-23)
      Visual Soil Evaluation (VSE) methods are established for soil quality assessment and focus on the examination of soil structure and associated anthropogenic impacts. VSE techniques, of which numerous types exist, are successfully used internationally both in soil research and as sustainable soil management tools. Techniques are generally categorised into profile and spade methods. Profile methods examine entire soil profiles in soil-pits to depths of ~ 1.5 m, exploring interactions between inherent soil features and anthropic management at specific sample points. Spade methods examine the upper soil profile, often by extracting sample blocks of topsoil by spade and focus on anthropic impacts. The VESS method (Guimarães et al., 2011) is a widely used spade method and involves assessment of soil sample blocks to 25 cm depth. However, in arable soils, important structural features may occur just below this depth such as plough pans, which VESS may not capture. The SubVESS method (Ball et al., 2015) follows principles of VESS but allows assessment to ~ 1 m depth. However, the later involves soil-pit excavation by mechanical means, which may be destructive, costly, time consuming and limit replication. When used in on-farm situations by farmers or advisors, full soil-pit excavation may not be desirable. Here we describe a method previously outlined (Emmet-Booth et al. 2018) called the Double Spade Method (DS) designed to examine miniprofiles in soil pits to 40 cm depth, therefore capturing potential structural features below the VESS assessment depth, without requiring full soil-pit excavation.
    • Whey proteins: targets of oxidation, or mediators of redox protection.

      Giblin, Linda; Yalçın, A Süha; Biçim, Gökhan; Krämer, Anna C; Chen, Zhifei; Callanan, Michael J; Arranz, Elena; Davies, Michael J; European Cooperation in Science and Technology; Novo Nordisk Foundation; et al. (Taylor and Francis, 2019-01-01)
      Bovine whey proteins are highly valued dairy ingredients. This is primarily due to their amino acid content, digestibility, bioactivities and their processing characteristics. One of the reported bioactivities of whey proteins is antioxidant activity. Numerous dietary intervention trials with humans and animals indicate that consumption of whey products can modulate redox biomarkers to reduce oxidative stress. This bioactivity has in part been assigned to whey peptides using a range of biochemical or cellular assays in vitro. Superimposing whey peptide sequences from gastrointestinal samples, with whey peptides proven to be antioxidant in vitro, allows us to propose peptides from whey likely to exhibit antioxidant activity in the diet. However, whey proteins themselves are targets of oxidation during processing particularly when exposed to high thermal loads and/or extensive processing (e.g. infant formula manufacture). Oxidative damage of whey proteins can be selective with regard to the residues that are modified and are associated with the degree of protein unfolding, with α-Lactalbumin more susceptible than β-Lactoglobulin. Such oxidative damage may have adverse effects on human health. This review summarises how whey proteins can modulate cellular redox pathways and conversely how whey proteins can be oxidised during processing. Given the extensive processing steps that whey proteins are often subjected to, we conclude that oxidation during processing is likely to compromise the positive health attributes associated with whey proteins.
    • Beyond ruminants: discussing opportunities for alternative pasture uses in New Zealand

      Lucci, Gina M.; Henchion, Maeve M.; Lange, Lene; Ledgard, Stewart F.; Collie, Stewart R.; Cosgrove, Gerald P.; Meyer, Anne S.; Graichen, Florian H.M.; Barth, Susanne; Lenehan, James J. (New Zealand Grassland Association, 2019-10-28)
      The New Zealand government has set ambitious goals for primary sector growth and of zero net carbon emissions by 2050. This presents an opportunity and obligation to develop new ideas for grassland production systems to increase export value and generate new job opportunities, while reducing environmental impacts. The aim of this paper is to draw on recent research in Europe to investigate some of the alternative and complementary uses for pasture as a feedstock for a green biorefinery. A biorefinery is a facility, or a series of processes, that convert biomass into a spectrum of value-added products. For example, protein can be extracted mechanically from green biomass once harvested. The residual fibre fraction could be used as a low-nitrogen feed for ruminants to reduce urinary nitrogen, while the liquid protein fraction could be processed to make it suitable for mono-gastric or human consumption. Enzymes can promote protein extraction and controlled conversion of insoluble plant fibres and oligosaccharides to foster gut-health promoting prebiotic food ingredients. Anaerobic digestion of residues can then be used to create energy and soilimproving products. Research and demonstration of these approaches in practice, along with the results of feasibility studies, will be required to see which of these opportunities is a good fit for New Zealand pasture systems.
    • Investigating the Effectiveness of Representations Based on Word-Embeddings in Active Learning for Labelling Text Datasets

      Lu, Jinghui; Henchion, Maeve; Mac Namee, Brian (2021-11-23)
      Manually labelling large collections of text data is a timeconsuming and expensive task, but one that is necessary to support machine learning based on text datasets. Active learning has been shown to be an effective way to alleviate some of the effort required in utilising large collections of unlabelled data for machine learning tasks without needing to fully label them. The representation mechanism used to represent text documents when performing active learning, however, has a significant influence on how effective the process will be. While simple vector representations such as bag-of-words have been shown to be an effective way to represent documents during active learning, the emergence of representation mechanisms based on the word embeddings prevalent in neural network research (e.g. word2vec and transformer based models like BERT) offer a promising, and as yet not fully explored, alternative. This paper describes a large-scale evaluation of the effectiveness of different text representation mechanisms for active learning across 8 datasets from varied domains. This evaluation shows that using representations based on modern word embeddings, especially BERT, which have not yet been widely used in active learning, achieves a significant improvement over more commonly used vector representations like bag-of-words.
    • From Farm to Fork: New Strategies for Quality Evaluation of Fresh Meat and Processed Meat Products

      Delgado-Pando, Gonzalo; Álvarez, Carlos; Morán, Lara (Hindawi Limited, 2019-11-14)
      Meat production has increased globally over the past decades and is expected to keep growing. At the same time, consumers have become more demanding with respect to the quality of meat and meat products. Producing high quality meat consistently is a big challenge for meat producers, processors, and retailers due to the intrinsic variability of the raw material, but it also generates the necessity to develop, improve, and upgrade the current quality analyses by faster and more reliable ones. Precisely, as results of the recent technological and biotechnological advances, a plethora of new possibilities have been opened for the meat production and processing sectors, and a vast improvement of the quality assessment and assurance throughout the whole processing could now be a reality. This special issue aims to cover the recent advances on quality assurance and assessment of fresh meat and meat products.
    • Metabolic phenotyping of the human microbiome

      Barton, Wiley; O'Sullivan, Orla; Cotter, Paul D.; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; SFI/12/RC/2273; 11/PI/1137; 13/SIRG/2160; 16/RC/3835 (F1000 Research, 2019-11-19)
      The human microbiome has been identified as having a key role in health and numerous diseases. Trillions of microbial cells and viral particles comprise the microbiome, each representing modifiable working elements of an intricate bioactive ecosystem. The significance of the human microbiome as it relates to human biology has progressed through culture-dependent (for example, media-based methods) and, more recently, molecular (for example, genetic sequencing and metabolomic analysis) techniques. The latter have become increasingly popular and evolved from being used for taxonomic identification of microbiota to elucidation of functional capacity (sequencing) and metabolic activity (metabolomics). This review summarises key elements of the human microbiome and its metabolic capabilities within the context of health and disease.
    • ONE HEALTH: Awareness to Action Antimicrobial and Anthelmintic Resistance Conference.

      Diskin, Michael G. (2021-11-23)
      Given the serious global public health threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) I welcome the holding of this One Health conference focusing on AMR, and anthelmintic resistance. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine continues to focus on a joined-up approach to animal health under the One Health umbrella. 'One Health' is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes. The challenge of AMR underpins the One Health concept. Ireland’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (iNAP), jointly developed with colleagues from the Department of Health, and the environment sector, recognises the urgent and growing problem of antimicrobial resistance for human health worldwide. It is currently being implemented through successful stakeholder leadership and collaboration. Anthelmintic resistance has been widely reported in parasites of a number of livestock species in Ireland, and is now an increasing problem nationally. Globally, resistance to all currently used antiparasitic veterinary medicinal products has been demonstrated. Resistance to anthelmintics is developing year-on-year, and is now a significant animal health issue. There is a responsibility on the agri-food industry to address its part in the major global challenge posed by AMR and anthelmintic resistance. This conference aims to both inform veterinary practitioners and farmers from the various animal sectors, and to also allow for discussion and debate around key interventions that can be put into practice to combat AMR and anthelmintic resistance. This conference places an emphasis on not simply increasing awareness, but also highlighting actions that can be taken to mitigate against the risk of further development and spread of both AMR and anthelmintic resistance. Tackling AMR and anthelmintic resistance collectively is critically important to achieving sustainable development of the agri-food sector. I wish to thank my colleagues in Teagasc, my department, Animal Health Ireland, University College Dublin and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland for organising this event. I hope you find this conference informative and that you leave with a better understanding of your respective roles and responsibilities to keep antibiotics and anthelmintics working effectively into the future.
    • Editorial: RAMIRAN 2017: Sustainable Utilisation of Manures and Residue Resources in Agriculture

      Misselbrook, Tom; Wagner-Riddle, Claudia; Richards, Karl; Lanigan, Gary; Burchill, William; Salazar, Francisco; RAMIRAN 2017 (Frontiers, 2019-09-24)
      The recycling of organic residues deriving from on-farm (e.g., livestock manure) or off-farm (e.g., sewage sludge, industrial by-products) is a central part of the circular economy toward developing more sustainable food production systems (e.g., EC, 2014). However, the safe, effective, and efficient use of organic “waste” streams as resources for nutrient provision and soil improvement in agricultural systems require several challenges to be addressed, summarized by Bernal (2017) as (i) to improve nutrient availability and soil cycling; (ii) to develop technologies for nutrient re-use; (iii) to reduce contaminants and improve food safety; (iv) to mitigate environmental emissions; and (v) to enhance soil health and function. Addressing these challenges needs multidisciplinary research within a whole systems context.
    • Development of a dehydrated fortified food base from fermented milk and parboiled wheat, and comparison of its composition and reconstitution behavior with those of commercial dried dairy‐cereal blends

      Shevade, Ashwini V.; O'Callaghan, Yvonne C.; O'Brien, Nora M.; O'Connor, Thomas P.; Guinee, Timothy P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/F/805 (Wiley, 2019-10-15)
      Dehydrated blends of milk and cereal are reconstituted and consumed as a nutritious soup or porridge in many regions; the composition and reconstitution behavior of the blends are likely to impact on nutritional quality and consumer acceptability of the soup/porridge. Experimental samples of dried fermented milk‐bulgur wheat blend (FMBW) and commercial samples of dried dairy‐cereal blends, namely kishk, tarhana, and super cereal plus corn–soy blend (SCpCSB) were compared for composition, color, water sorption, and reconstitution characteristics. FMBW blends had higher contents of protein, Ca, lactose and lactic acid, lower levels of salt (NaCl) and Fe, and a lighter, more‐yellow color (higher L* and b*‐color co‐ordinates) than tarhana or kishk. Compared with SCpCSB, FMBW had numerically higher levels of protein, lactose, and lactic acid, lower levels of Ca, Fe, Zn, and Mg, and lower pH. Tarhana had highest mean levels of starch, and on reconstitution (133 g/kg) had highest water holding capacity, viscosity during pasting and cooling, yield stress (σ0), consistency coefficient (K), and viscosity on shearing from 20 to 120 s −1 at 60°C. Reconstituted FMBW, kishk, and SCpCSB had similar pasting and flow behavior properties. Overall, the composition (starch, protein, Ca, Mg), pasting and flow behavior characteristics of FMBW were closer to those SCpCSB and kishk than to tarhana. The results suggest that the FMBW powder, on appropriate supplementation with Ca, Fe, Zn and Mg, could be used for the development of customized fortified blended foods for specific groups.
    • LIFE BEEF CARBON: a common framework for quantifying grass and corn based beef farms’ carbon footprints

      O’Brien, D.; Herron, J.; Andurand, J.; Caré, S.; Martinez, P.; Migliorati, L.; Moro, M.; Pirlo, G.; Dollé, J-B; European Union; et al. (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2019-10-31)
      Europe’s roadmap to a low-carbon economy aims to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Beef production is an important source of GHG emissions and is expected to increase as the world population grows. LIFE BEEF CARBON is a voluntary European initiative that aims to reduce GHG emissions per unit of beef (carbon footprint) by 15% over a 10-year period on 2172 farms in four large beef-producing countries. Changes in farms beef carbon footprint are normally estimated via simulation modelling, but the methods current models apply differ. Thus, our initial goal was to develop a common modelling framework to estimate beef farms carbon footprint. The framework was developed for a diverse set of Western Europe farms located in Ireland, Spain, Italy and France. Whole farm and life cycle assessment (LCA) models were selected to quantify emissions for the different production contexts and harmonized. Carbon Audit was chosen for Ireland, Bovid-CO2 for Spain and CAP’2ER for France and Italy. All models were tested using 20 case study farms, that is, 5 per country and quantified GHG emissions associated with on-farm live weight gain. The comparison showed the ranking of beef systems gross carbon footprint was consistent across the three models. Suckler to weaning or store systems generally had the highest carbon footprint followed by suckler to beef systems and fattening beef systems. When applied to the same farm, Carbon Audit’s footprint estimates were slightly lower than CAP’2ER, but marginally higher than Bovid-CO2. These differences occurred because the models were adapted to a specific region’s production circumstances, which meant their emission factors for key sources; that is, methane from enteric fermentation and GHG emissions from concentrates were less accurate when used outside their target region. Thus, for the common modelling framework, regionspecific LCA models were chosen to estimate beef carbon footprints instead of a single generic model. Additionally, the Carbon Audit and Bovid-CO2 models were updated to include carbon removal by soil and other environmental metrics included in CAP’2ER, for example, acidification. This allows all models to assess the effect carbon mitigation strategies have on other potential pollutants. Several options were identified to reduce beef farms carbon footprint, for example, improving genetic merit. These options were assessed for beef systems, and a mitigation plan was created by each nation. The cumulative mitigation effect of the LIFE BEEF CARBON plan was estimated to exceed the projects reduction target (−15%).
    • Actinomyces Produces Defensin-Like Bacteriocins (Actifensins) with a Highly Degenerate Structure and Broad Antimicrobial Activity

      Sugrue, Ivan; O’Connor, Paula M.; Hill, Colin; Stanton, Catherine; Ross, R. Paul; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; JPI; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273 (American Society for Microbiology, 2020-01-29)
      We identified a strain of Actinomyces ruminicola which produces a potent bacteriocin with activity against a broad range of Gram-positive bacteria, many of which are pathogenic to animals and humans. The bacteriocin was purified and found to have a mass of 4,091 ± 1 Da with a sequence of GFGCNLITSNPYQCSNHCKSVGYRGGYCKLRTVCTCY containing three disulfide bridges. Surprisingly, near relatives of actifensin were found to be a series of related eukaryotic defensins displaying greater than 50% identity to the bacteriocin. A pangenomic screen further revealed that production of actifensin-related bacteriocins is a common trait within the genus, with 47 being encoded in 161 genomes. Furthermore, these bacteriocins displayed a remarkable level of diversity with a mean amino acid identity of only 52% between strains/species. This level of redundancy suggests that this new class of bacteriocins may provide a very broad structural basis on which to deliver and design new broad-spectrum antimicrobials for treatment of animal and human infections. IMPORTANCE Bacteriocins (ribosomally produced antimicrobial peptides) are potential alternatives to current antimicrobials given the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance. We identified a novel bacteriocin from Actinomyces ruminicola with no previously characterized antimicrobial activity. Using publicly available genomic data, we found a highly conserved yet divergent family of previously unidentified homologous peptide sequences within the genus Actinomyces with striking similarity to eukaryotic defensins. These actifensins may provide a potent line of antimicrobial defense/offense, and the machinery to produce them could be used for the design of new antimicrobials given the degeneracy that exists naturally in their structure.
    • Preliminary investigation of the antimicrobial and mechanisms of resistance of Enterobacteria isolated from minced meat in the Northeast of Algeria: The case of butchers from Constantine

      Leila Dib, Amira; Chahed, Amina; Lakhdara, Nedjoua; Agabou, Amir; Boussena, Sabrina; Ghougal, Khireddine; Lamri, Melisa; Sana Kerrour, Nessrine; Kadja, Louiza; Bouaziz, Assia; et al. (Open Access Text Pvt, Ltd., 2019)
      Food products of animal origin such as fresh meat are easily contaminated by microorganisms if handling, processing and storage conditions are not fully respected. The present study aimed first to evaluate the bacterial load and microbial contamination rates of ground raw beef to identify the main pathogenic flora that dominate and second, to determine the resistance patterns and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) of isolated Gram-negative strains against certain families of antibiotics. Therefore, 39 samples have been collected from 5 butcher shops located in Constantine province in the North-East of Algeria. The samples were analysed for total bacterial count, presence of total and faecal coliforms, Staphylococci and Salmonella. Furthermore, 23 antibiotics were tested using the diffusion method on Mueller-Hinton agar, towards 22 strains isolates. Bacterial analyses showed a high contamination by total aerobic bacteria, total and faecal coliforms. Escherichia coli, Citrobacter spp., Enterobacter spp., Hafnia alvei, Salmonella pullorum and Staphylococcus spp (except Staphylococcus aureus) were further revealed in some samples. The results of the antibiogram test exhibit multi-resistance to more than eight antibiotics with varied effects. From the whole tested strains isolates, the fully susceptibility effect was for spectinomycin (SPT). This study reveals that the analysed minced meat was found to be highly contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria. This study allows concluding that appropriate use of antibiotics in compliance with good hygiene practices is essential to reduce the antibiotic resistance identified in this preliminary study.
    • A Review of Livestock Methane Emission Factors (2016-CCRP-DS.11) EPA Research Report

      O'Brian, Donal; Shalloo, Laurence (2021-11-23)
      Teagasc and University College Dublin, with support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inventory team, reviewed the livestock methane emission factors used in the national greenhouse gas inventory approach for the agriculture sector and assessed potential reduction strategies. Livestock methane emission factors are annual estimates of methane emissions per head. They are used in conjunction with livestock statistics to estimate annual livestock methane emissions. Methane emission factors are computed using country-specific methods or methods provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Currently, Ireland uses tier 2 (country-specific data and emission factors) methods for cattle and tier 1 (default data and emission factors) IPCC methods for the remaining livestock species. The latter are less accurate than the former. The objectives of this desktop study were twofold: first, to evaluate the activity data of Ireland’s national greenhouse gas inventory’s livestock methane emission factors and, second, to update/recommend new, more advanced methods/emission factors for computing Ireland’s tier 1 and 2 livestock methane emissions.
    • Naturally Derived Polyphenols Protect Against Corticosterone-Induced Changes in Primary Cortical Neurons

      Donoso, Francisco; Ramírez, Valerie T; Golubeva, Anna V; Moloney, Gerard M; Stanton, Catherine; Dinan, Timothy G; Cryan, John F; Mead Johnson; Cremo; Suntory Wellness; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019-12-08)
      Background: Polyphenols are phytochemicals that have been associated with therapeutic effects in stress-related disorders. Indeed, studies suggest that polyphenols exert significant neuroprotection against multiple neuronal injuries, including oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, but the mechanisms are unclear. Evidence indicates that polyphenol neuroprotection may be mediated by activation of Nrf2, a transcription factor associated with antioxidant and cell survival responses. On the other hand, in stress-linked disorders, Fkbp5 is a novel molecular target for treatment because of its capacity to regulate glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity. However, it is not clear the role Fkbp5 plays in polyphenol-mediated stress modulation. In this study, the neuroprotective effects and mechanisms of the naturally derived polyphenols xanthohumol and quercetin against cytotoxicity induced by corticosterone were investigated in primary cortical cells. Methods: Primary cortical cells containing both neurons and astrocytes were pre-incubated with different concentrations of quercetin and xanthohumol to examine the neuroprotective effects of polyphenols on cell viability, morphology, and gene expression following corticosterone insult. Results: Both polyphenols tested prevented the reduction of cell viability and alterations of neuronal/astrocytic numbers due to corticosterone exposure. Basal levels of Bdnf mRNA were also decreased after corticosterone insult; however, this was reversed by both polyphenol treatments. Interestingly, the Nrf2 inhibitor blocked xanthohumol but not quercetin-mediated neuroprotection. In contrast, we found that Fkbp5 expression is exclusively modulated by quercetin. Conclusions: These results suggest that naturally derived polyphenols protect cortical cells against corticosterone-induced cytotoxicity and enhance cell survival via modulation of the Nrf2 pathway and expression of Fkbp5.
    • BRIAR: Biomass Retrieval in Ireland Using Active Remote Sensing (2014-CCRP-MS.17)

      Green, Stuart; Martin, Shafique; Gharechelou, Saeid; Cawkwell, Fiona; Black, Kevin (2021-11-23)
      Biomass Retrieval Using Active Remote Sensing Hedgerows are a very significant component of the Irish landscape. They perform multiple functions, acting as boundary markers, acting as stock-proof fencing, supporting bio-diversity and controlling run-off. They function as reservoirs of above-ground biomass and their potential as carbon sinks was explored in an earlier study which found that hedgerows potentially sequester 0.5–2.7tCO2 /ha/year. The earlier study used light detection and ranging (lidar) scanning to build 3D models of hedgerows to successfully estimate biomass, but at the time the cost–benefit of doing so was poor. However, this has since changed with the availability of free lidar sources and the reduced cost of commissioning/ acquiring lidar data. The purpose of the present study was to examine the use of another active remote sensing tool, imaging radar, to estimate biomass in hedgerows. The study area around Fermoy in County Cork was field surveyed using new drone technology to collect data on a sample of hedgerows from which estimates of biomass could be drawn. These field estimates were used with new high-resolution TerraSAR-X Staring Spotlight (TSX-SS) radar imagery to model hedgerows directly from radar backscatter. The study found that hedgerow biomass cannot be derived directly from radar backscatter. There were a number of reasons for this, such as the hedgerow biomass density, with an average of 10kg/m2 , being above the threshold of saturation for radar in the X-band frequency range. However, other radar sensors with lower frequencies, and thus higher saturation limits, do not have the spatial resolution to map hedgerows. An alternative method of investigating hedgerow structure, and thus inferring biomass, interferometry, is not successful as the level of coherence between the observations in our dataset was too low to build a 3D model (i.e. the backscatter from the hedgerow changed too much between observations). A new method that examines the cross-sectional response of the radar return across a hedgerow was shown to be successful at modelling the relationship between the width of the backscatter profile and the width of the hedgerow. However, this too was sensitive to the orientation of the hedgerow to the sensor. Therefore, this study shows that radar data does not seem to be an appropriate technology for estimating hedgerow properties in Ireland. In order to estimate the national stock of hedgerow, the new Prime2 spatial data storage model (OSI, 2014) was applied in conjunction with developed maps showing the probability of a field boundary being a stone wall or a hedgerow, to give a new national estimate for hedgerow length in Ireland of 689,000km. This estimate is double the frequently quoted figure of 300,000km because of a much wider definition of “hedgerow” used in this report. Net change in hedgerow length was examined using the aerial photographic records from 1995, 2005 and 2015, along with county-level survey records, showing that there has been a net removal of hedgerows between 1995 and 2015 of between 0.16% and 0.3% per annum, although the rate is much slower in the latter half of that period. As X-band radar seems to be inappropriate for hedgerow evaluation (especially for the obvious case of the identification of the complete removal of large hedgerows, for which it is much more expensive and time-consuming than the detection of hedgerow removal using aerial photography), the existing national lidar surveys from the Geological Survey of Ireland were examined for their appropriateness for hedgerow evaluation. A digital canopy model derived from these data successfully estimated heights (mean and maximum) in the trial test site, with an r 2 value of 0.79.
    • Estimating the Effect of Respiratory Disease on Production Performance in Farrow-to-Finish Pig Farms

      Costa, Maria Rodrigues da; Rovira, Albert; Torremorell, Montserrat; Fitzgerald, Rose Mary; Gasa, Josep; O’Shea, Helen; Manzanilla, Edgar Garcia; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; PathSurvPig 14/S/832 (Research Square, 2020-05-22)
      Background Respiratory disease is one of the most important factors impacting pig production worldwide. However, the literature highlights the multitude of confounding factors complicating the clear attribution of growth impairment to respiratory disease, and the extrapolation of the effects of respiratory disease to a wider population has not been thoroughly researched. The objective of this study was to estimate the impact of respiratory disease on production performance in a subset of 56 Irish farrow-to- nish pig farms. Proxies for respiratory disease status such as serology for four major pathogens (inuenza A virus, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae ), slaughter checks (pleurisy, pneumonia, lung abscesses, pericarditis and liver milk spots) and vaccination information were used as predictors for production performance. Results The models to estimate production performance from serology, slaughter checks, and vaccination were able to explain the variability of weaner and nisher mortality by 26 and 20%, respectively, and average daily feed intake (ADFI), average daily gain (ADG) and age at slaughter by 47, 40 and 41%, respectively. Feed conversion ratio and sow performance were not explained by the studied predictors. Conclusions The models tted, especially those for ADFI, ADG and age at slaughter, emphasize the usefulness of sourcing information at different levels to understand the impact of farm health status on pig performance, and highlight the impact of respiratory disease on production performance.
    • Driving profitability per hectare!

      Shalloo, Laurence; Hanrahan, Liam; Ramsbottom, George; Horan, Brendan (2021-11-23)
      Summary • A resilient dairy business will be sustainable to survive milk price drops while being very profitable when milk price is high, while being sustainable across all of the sustainability indicators. • The term resilient means able to “recover, respond, deal, withstand” different internal and external challenges that may manifest themselves within the farm business from time to time. • There is significant potential to increase efficiency and productivity at farm level when compared with the average farm nationally. • The focus at farm level must be about increasing grass growth and utilisation and converting that feed to milk solids sales in as low a cost as possible. • Increasing labour efficiency by operating more streamlined work practices, using contractors and contract rearing of heifers will have a major impact on labour cost – farm labour requirements, ultimately affecting the efficiency of the overall business
    • Parthenium hysterophorus Herbage Mulching: a Potential Source of Weeds Control in Soybean (Glycine max)

      Khalid, S; Shehzad, M; Zahoor, F; Mubeen, K; Ahmad, A; Ali, E (FapUNIFESP (SciELO), 2018-05-28)
      Weeds have indirect effects on crop plants. Crop development is affected by allelopathy from certain weed species. Allelochemicals from allelopathic weeds can disturb the root and shoot growth of emerging crop seedlings, as well as cause several other types of damage. A study was carried out to investigate the allelopathic potential of Parthenium hysterophorus for weed response in soybean. The experiment was laid out in Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with split plot arrangements and replicated thrice. Sowing methods (broadcast and line sowing) were kept in the main plot and mulching treatments (surface mulching and soil incorporation) were kept in the sub-plots. Mulching of Parthenium hysterophorus was applied at the rate of 1.0 t ha-1, 2.5 t ha-1, 5 t ha-1 with control (no parthenium). Manual weed control was also used as treatments. The results revealed that significantly higher shoot length, shoot fresh weight, shoot dry weight, root length, root fresh weigh, root dry weight, number of nodules per plant, nodules fresh and dry weight, number of branches, number of pods per plant, thousand seed weight biological yield, economic yield, dry matter yield and harvest index were recorded with the soil incorporation of Parthenium herbage at the rate of 2.5 t ha-1. Maximum weed density and weed dry biomass were recorded in control plots while weed control efficiency was seen greater in plots where Parthenium herbage was applied to surface at the rate of 5 t ha-1. The results suggested that the use of Parthenium hysterophorus herbage mulching can reduce infestation of weeds by its allelopathic effects and increase the yield of soybean under sub-humid agro-climatic conditions.
    • Grassland Phosphorus and Nitrogen Fertiliser Replacement value of Dairy Processing Dewatered Sludge

      Ashekuzzaman, S.M.; Forrestal, Patrick; Richards, Karl G.; Daly, Karen; Fenton, Owen; Enterprise Ireland; Dairy Industry Partners; TC2014 0016 (Elsevier, 21-11-20)
      Dairy processing sludge is currently a bio-based fertiliser being spread to grassland without knowledge pertaining to its phosphorus (P) or nitrogen (N) fertiliser replacement value. This creates uncertainty of desired crop yield achievement and unproductive nutrient recycling and also poses a great challenge to the dairy milk processing industry in promoting their food processing by-product as valuable recyclable fertiliser. Therefore four representative samples, i.e. two activated sludge (aluminium-precipitated (Al-sludge) and iron-precipitated (Fe-sludge)), and two lime-stabilised calcium-precipitated sludge (Ca1- and Ca2-sludge), were examined at field scale to assess P and N availability for crop yield and uptake in comparison to reference mineral fertilisers over one seasonal year. The field plots were set-up on a light textured clay loam soil within the optimum plant available P (Morgan's soil P index 3, i.e. medium / adequate soil P level) in two separate adjoining areas consisting of P and N availability experiments. Each experiment consisted of 40 plots (each 8×2 m2) of 10 treatments with 4 replications arranged in a randomised complete block design. All dairy sludge (40 kg-P ha−1) and mineral P treatments (rates 0–50 kg-P ha−1) produced similar yields and uptake, and crop P was not affected by sludge applications despite the presence of high Al, Ca and Fe. During the experiment there was no significant change in P index (stayed at index 3) indicating that no treatment caused a decline in P into index 2 (i.e. low soil P level), therefore replacing P removed by the crop. The only change in Morgan's P was observed in the Ca-sludge treatments, but this was due to Morgan's reagent overestimating plant available P in high Ca conditions. From N trial plots a significantly higher grass yield and N uptake was observed for Fe and both Ca-type sludge applied plots than the control (zero N) plot during the 1st harvest, while no statistical difference observed in the subsequent harvests (up to 4th harvesting). The N fertiliser replacement value (derived from mineral N response) of sludge samples was observed to be in the order of Fe (54%)>Ca2 (25%)>Ca1 (22%)>Al (8%) with greater promise of N fertiliser efficiency of Fe and Ca types. Overall these bio-based sludges show promise in recycling P and N for grassland application but longer term trials in other soil types considering other environmental aspects (losses to soil, water and air) can further optimize the management of dairy sludge as an alternative to chemical fertiliser.
    • Economic impact of different strategies to use sex-sorted sperm for reproductive management in seasonal-calving, pasture-based dairy herds

      Ruelle, E.; Shalloo, L.; Butler, S.T.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; Irish Dairy Levy; 15/5/696; 16/RC/3835 (Elsevier, 2021)
      To maximize efficiency, profitability, and societal acceptance of modern dairy production, it is important to minimize the production of male dairy calves with poor beef merit. One solution involves using sex-sorted sperm (SS) to generate dairy replacements and breeding all other cows to an easy-calving, short-gestation bull with good beef merit. We used the Pasture Based Herd Dynamic Milk Model to investigate the effect of herd fertility and use of SS on farm net profit in a herd of 100 cows. This was completed by simulating herds with differing fertility performance (good, average, poor), and differing farm reproductive management [conventional semen (CONV) or SS with varying pregnancy per artificial insemination (P/AI) relative to CONV (i.e., relative P/AI 100%, 85%, and 70%)]. As an additional consideration, the method of allocating SS to cows was also examined. The first option used SS on random heifers and cows (S). The second option used SS on heifers and targeted high-fertility cows (SSel). The final option was similar to SSel, but used a fixed-time artificial insemination (AI) protocol to facilitate AI on the farm mating start date (SSync). For CONV, dairy breed semen was used for AI until 50 animals were pregnant (50% chance of a female calf), whereas for S, SSel, or SSync the target number of animals successfully conceiving with SS was set at 28 (based on assumed 90% chance of a female calf from pregnancies derived from SS). Beef breed semen was used on all other dams. The results indicated that the biggest effect on farm net profit was not based on whether or not SS was used, but instead was most affected by the overall fertility performance of the herd. Total farm profit decreased by 10% between the good and average fertility herds, and decreased by a further 12% between the average and poor fertility herds. In almost all situations, when the relative P/AI with SS was 85%, use of SS led to an overall increase of the farm net profit. There was an economic benefit of using either SSel or SSync compared with S for the average and poor fertility herds but not for the good fertility herd, highlighting an interaction between SS P/AI and overall herd fertility as well as management practices. If the relative P/AI with SS was <70%, the use of SS led to a decrease in profitability in all simulations except for SSync, highlighting the importance of a good management strategy for use of SS. The findings in this study indicated that SS has significant potential to help facilitate greater integration between the dairy and beef production sectors, as well as increase farm profitability when used appropriately.