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AgriFood Matters Podcast Series

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AgriFood Matters is an exciting new podcast series developed by the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science featuring leading academic staff at UCD in the area of Agriculture, Food Science and Human Nutrition.  

Hosted by Seán Duke, Journalist at the Irish Times, this monthly podcast will examine topical issues such as Sustainability, Biodiversity, Inclusion, Food and Health, Innovation, Crop Sciences, Agricultural Economics, Humanitarian Action and much more and is available for download on ITunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Pocket Casts and RadioPublic.

EPISODE 13: ADVANCES IN ANIMAL REPRODUCTION

In this episode, we will hear from two researchers at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science working at the cutting edge of the science of animal reproduction, who were both inspired by the late UCD Professor of Animal Husbandry, Ian Gordon, who died in 2021.

Professor Pat Lonergan is investigating precisely how the embryo in cattle communicates in utero with the mother, with a view to delivering insights that can provide competitive benefits for the Irish dairy and cattle industry. 

Professor Trudee Fair is researching all the factors required to develop a healthy ovum, in animals, and her role leading a major EU research consortium called Eurova which brings together specialist egg, or ovum, biologists from all across Europe.

EPISODE 12: GETTING VALUE FROM FOOD WASTE

Food waste occurs at every stage from production, processing, distribution, retail with the most being wasted at consumer level.  The figures are shocking when we consider those struggling to access food, as well as the huge cost to the environment of producing tons of food that ends up in landfill. We want to reduce food waste, but then when food waste does exist, find ways in which to extract value from it for environmental and economic benefit. In this podcast, two researchers from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science have come up with ways in which technology can be used to repurpose existing food waste into something of value.

Dr Ajay Menon works on a project looking at getting value from general food waste whereas Professor Nigel Brunton has many years’ experience in looking at the waste produced from very specific industries such as apple pulp from the cider industry, or wheat waste which results post-harvest, and concentrating some very valuable by products. By treating food waste in the most resource efficient way possible with every product in the cycle being used, a circular economy in food and agriculture can be developed which is the best of all worlds.

EPISODE 11: WHAT IS DIGITAL AGRICULTURE 

In this episode we will hear about digital (or precision) agriculture. This is the way in which technology is used to improve decisions on managing soil and crops by delivering the right intervention, in the right place at the right time.

We have heard previously about the importance of getting the balance right between the benefits of fertiliser and pesticide application while at the same time trying to minimise their damaging effects. Dr Mary Harty and Professor Kevin McDonnell from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science combine digital technology, weather forecasting and soil type to determine how to get the best out of the soils and yields and to take the guess work out of treatment plans.

Their research has attracted the interest of the United Nations and Professor McDonnell is now involved in a major global project to ensure that these technologies are used for the benefit of all. Prof. McDonnell updates us on how Costa Rica, the Philippines and Kenya will soon benefit from this research from UCD.

EPISODE 10: EXAMPLES OF VITAMIN D RESEARCH 

Two researchers from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science will give us insights into their research about the vitamin, one from the animal, and the other from the human perspective. 

Dr Kieran Meade is an animal immunologist who will share the important research on cattle he has been doing with an aim to improve health and yields and reduce the use of antibiotics at the farm level. 

Dr Aifric O’Sullivan is a nutrition lecturer in UCD and is investigating why there are so many people in Ireland at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, whether there are some groups in society who are especially at risk, and what can we do about it?

EPISODE 9: THE STORY OF BEES

This episode looks at the essential role of insects in agriculture, specifically as pollinators. 

We will talk to Dr Dara Stanley an entomologist based in the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science with a special interest in the interaction between pollinating insects and plants. Dara has recently received two very prestigious awards, in October she received The British Ecological Society Early Career Award and last month she was awarded Science Foundation Ireland’s Early Career Researcher of the Year.

Dr Brian Tobin is a Forestry lecturer in the School with a lifelong interest in honey bees and is the beekeeper on campus, and he’ll be telling us about the fascinating life in the hive. Although UCD is based in a city, there is a significant space on campus called Rosemount Environmental Research Station where staff and students can investigate the interactions between soil, plants, and insects such as research honey bees, bumblebees, and the many species of solitary bees and hoverflies which are responsible for pollinating plants and providing us with food.

EPISODE 8: BIODIVERSITY

In this month’s episode we talk about biodiversity, which is especially topical given the recent UN Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow. A recent Bord Bia survey found that consumers really did want to make a difference in making lifestyle and buying changes and yet biodiversity is not yet on consumers’ radar in terms of making purchasing decisions.

In this episode we hear from two leading researchers at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Schience who update us on their research which is leading to really impactful changes in Irish farming and Irish landscapes. Assoc. Prof Helen Sheridan discusses her research on multi-species swards and the Longterm Grazing Platform at UCD Lyons Farm. Assoc. Prof. Barry McMahon discusses biodiversity loss and the interaction between agricultural systems and bird populations. 

EPISODE 7: THE SCIENCE OF HORSES

In this episode we meet two significant researchers in the area of equine science who work in the School of Agriculture and Food Science at UCD, Professor Emmeline Hill and Dr Barbara Murphy. There is a real value in being able to solve problems for society through work which starts within a university. Both of these researchers had a eureka moment when doing their PhDs and went on to set up companies to provide solutions for the horse industry. Their experience in understanding the science as well as the application of the science to maximise the health and performance of thoroughbred horses shows the importance of partnerships between industry and universities to translate successful research into real world solutions.

EPISODE 6: THE STORY OF MEAT

We are a nation of meat eaters, and as a country we are exceptionally good at producing high quality meat which is in increasingly high demand globally. Meat is a rich source of many essential nutrients and makes a significant and important contribution to the Irish diet. As with most things in life, we need to find a point of balance in how we produce meat to minimise its impact on the environment, while being financially viable for the producers, as well as supporting consumers to include meat in a diet which is beneficial and not detrimental to health. In this podcast Professor Frank Monahan, Head of School at UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science and Dr Breige McNulty explain the impact of the research they are doing in this area and how the production and consumption of meat can be optimised for the consumer and the wider society.

EPISODE 5: NUTRITION

In this episode, Professor Lorraine Brennan discusses her work on precision nutrition designed for the individual and how this approach, in future, might radically change the nutritional advice given to people, and how it’s given. We also visit UCD Rosemount Environmental Research Station where we talk to Yorkshirewoman Dr Saoirse Tracy who discusses her passion for soil science, and how research into the soil can improve human nutrition.

EPISODE 4: THE STORY OF OATS

In this episode we speak to Professor Fiona Doohan, a Professor of Crop Science at UCD, who illustrates the process of producing healthy foods from crops which are resilient, sustainable and local through the story of oats. Fiona’s work centres on innovations which address disease control and improve the diversity of crop production while aligning with the EU green deal objectives of reducing fertilizer and pesticide use. Identifying and producing crops which thrive in different regions in Ireland to meet the huge human and animal feed demand is a significant challenge, but so is ensuring that these crops are economically sustainable. Professor Michael Wallace, a Professor of Agriculture and Food Economics in the School of Agriculture and Food Science at UCD will share his insights of the tillage sector from an economic perspective and how agricultural and environmental policies impact the farmer..

EPISODE 3: DAIRY PRODUCTION AND AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION

In this episode, we hear from two women in agricultural academia. One, working in dairy production, is starting out on her career journey, while the other, who is working in agricultural extension and innovation has built up decades of professional experience, at home, and overseas. Dr Zoe McKay completed her PhD in 2018. During her doctorate Dr McKay was based at UCD Lyons Farm. In 2020 she was appointed assistant professor of Dairy Production at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science. Dr Monica Gorman, a lecturer in Agricultural Extension and Innovation at UCD, is a Wicklow native who grew up on a family farm. She worked in Tanzania and Sudan with Oxfam and Self Help Africa before returning to academia at UCD in 2013. We’ll also have a regular slot with Julie Dowsett who brings us up to date each month with what’s happening at the School. Today, we’ll discuss some of the courses and options that are on offer at the UCD School of Agricultural and Food Science.

EPISODE 2: INNOVATION IN IRISH AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION

In episode 2 you will hear about innovation in Irish agriculture and food production. Dr. Edel Kelly, researcher in Agribusiness and Rural Development at UCD will provide an overview of the innovation challenges facing agriculture in Ireland right now, and in future years. You will also hear about one particularly exciting Irish innovation from Professor of Animal Nutrition at UCD, John O’Doherty, who has been investigating the use of seaweed as an alternative to existing feed source in pigs in order to reduce over-use of antibiotics in pigs. Julie Dowsett will bring us up to date with the very latest research and activities of interest to the public taking place at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science .

EPISODE 1: SUSTAINABILITY

This first episode discusses sustainability in agriculture; and the drive towards practicing agriculture and the production of food in a more environmentally-friendly way. Featuring Prof. Alex Evans, Dean of Agriculture and Head of School and Tommy Boland, Professor of Ruminant Nutrition and Sheep Production at UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.

UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science

Agriculture and Food Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
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