Agrifood and Biosciences Institute

Co Armagh, United Kingdom

Agrifood and Biosciences Institute

Co Armagh, United Kingdom

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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: RUR-10-2016-2017 | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2016

The European Union (EU) is the worlds second biggest producer of pigmeat and is the markets largest exporter. In order to maintain an economically viable and sustainable pig industry, innovation is a key factor. EU PiG specifically aims to more effectively connect producers with the latest science, husbandry techniques and technologies from within their industry via fellow producers, academics and advisors connected through thematic and regional platforms. A unique consortium of 19 organisations has been brought together, representing 13 Member States that together account for 92% of the EUs pig meat production and 89% of the EUs pig herd in 2014. The EU PiG consortium represents a wide range of actors, including national and regional pig producer groups, researchers, rural development boards, innovation practitioners and SMEs. EU PiG will provide a platform for dialogue for the actors, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and sharing of innovative best practice.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-11a-2014 | Award Amount: 3.63M | Year: 2015

The AquaSpace project has the goal of providing increased space for aquaculture to allow increased production. Following the call, we will achieve this by identifying the key constraints experienced by aquaculture development in a wide range of contexts and aquaculture types, taking into account all relevant factors and advised by a Reference User Group. We will then map these constraints against a wide variety of tools/methods that have already been developed in national and EU projects for spatial planning purposes, including some that have been designed specifically for aquaculture. In the freshwater sector only, we will also consider ecosystem services provided by aquaculture that are relevant to integrated catchment planning and management. At 16 case study sites having a variety of scales, aquaculture at different trophic levels with different environmental interactions and most importantly with a range of key space-related development constraints as defined by local stakeholders, we will assess appropriate tools using a common process so as to facilitate synthesis and comparison. This case study approach will generate a large amount of information and is allocated about a third of the projects resources. The project will develop the outcomes leading to a set of evaluated tools for facilitating the aquaculture planning process by overcoming present constraints. This information will be presented on an interactive web-based platform with tailored entry points for specific user types (e.g. planners, farmers, public) to enable them to navigate to the tools most appropriate to their application. The knowledge and information gained during this process will be developed into an on-line module at Masters Level which will also be developed into a short CPD course aimed at aquaculture planning professionals. The public will be engaged by an innovative school video competition and a vehicle to ensure project legacy will be established.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2013.1.2-01 | Award Amount: 8.01M | Year: 2014

Agroforestry is the practice of deliberately integrating woody vegetation (trees or shrubs) with crop and/or animal systems to benefit from the resulting ecological and economic interactions. AGFORWARD (AGroFORestry that Will Advance Rural Development) is a four-year project, developed by 23 organisations at the forefront of agroforestry research, practice and promotion in Europe, with the goal of promoting appropriate agroforestry practices that advance sustainable rural development. The project will i) increase our understanding of existing, and new extensive and intensive agroforestry systems in Europe; ii) identify, develop and demonstrate innovations to improve the ecosystem service benefits and viability of agroforestry systems in Europe using participatory research, iii) develop better adapted designs and practices for the different soil and climatic conditions of Europe, and iv) promote the wide adoption of sustainable agroforestry systems. Successful and sustainable agroforestry practices are best developed by farmers and land owners working in partnership with researchers, extension staff, and other rural businesses. AGFORWARD will facilitate 33 participative agroforestry research and development stakeholder groups to improve the resilience of i) existing agroforestry systems of high nature and cultural value such as the dehesa and montado; and ii) olive, traditional orchard, and other high value tree systems, and the sustainability of iii) arable and iv) livestock systems with the integration of trees. Using existing bio-economic models, AGFORWARD will evaluate and adapt the innovations to improve the delivery of positive ecosystem services and business profitability at farm- and landscape-scales across Europe. By using and developing existing European fora, such as the European Agroforestry Federation, AGFORWARD will implement an informative and effective promotion programme to benefit the European economy, environment and society.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME-AG | Phase: SME-2011-2 | Award Amount: 3.42M | Year: 2012

The mushroom industry SME AGs across Europe have come together to request the main research providers of applied mushroom research in Europe to conduct research on Trichoderma and Virus, two major problems for the industry. Disease control has been compromised by the withdrawal of key pesticides and disinfectants by the EU in recent years, such as the withdrawal of approval for formaldehyde as a disinfectant and carbendazim fungicide for Trichoderma control. The Mushroom SME AGs want to know what their members must do to prevent and / or control outbreaks of Trichoderma and Virus. Disease control must now be based on a sustainable integrated pest management system (IPM). IPM focuses on combining (i) improved hygiene procedures (ii) knowledge of how individual diseases and pests spread within and between crops (epidemiology), (iii) improved diagnostics and (iv) optimum use of available products to control and reduce the incidence of disease. This project aims to provide research-based solutions for the mushroom industry to deal with these two relatively new major diseases affecting production. Application of the solutions developed by this project to the European mushroom industry will reduce crop losses and increase efficiency and competitiveness. During the project we will (1) generate technical research-based information on how Trichoderma and MVX grow, survive and spread in mushroom compost in order to identify the weak links in the chain and the steps needed to strengthen them; (2) screen and evaluate alternative disinfectant and biocontrol products for use in disease prevention and control programmes; (3) identify, characterise and quantify the presence of pathogens on mushroom farms and compost facilities across Europe over a period of up to 12 months, using the most up to date technologies; (4) work towards identifying diagnostics service provider(s) who will offer new diagnostic tests, developed during the project, to SME AG members; (5) compile key results into Technical Factsheets for SME AGs to distribute to their members and (6) hold seminars, workshops and conferences organised by SME AGs for their members. In the region of 300\ SME mushroom growers and composters will benefit from the results and this will lead to reduced disease incidence and associated costs savings among a large group of SMEs.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.1.2-03 | Award Amount: 7.69M | Year: 2012

BIOFECTOR is an integrated project that develops alternative fertilisation strategies by the use of various bio-effectors (BEs, plant growth promoting microorganisms and natural extraction products). BEs stimulate root growth, solubilise and mineralise sparingly available nutrients, or protect plants from abiotic and biotic stresses. Novel BEs will be isolated, characterized and applied in strategic combination with alternative fertilisation strategies that include organic and low-input farming, use of waste recycling fertilizers, and fertiliser-placement technologies. Bio-effectors addressed comprise fungal strains of Trichoderma, Penicillium and Sebacinales, as well as bacterial strains of Bacillus and Pseudomonades with well-characterized root growth promoting and nutrient solubilising potential. Natural extraction products of seaweed, compost and plant extracts, as well as their purified active compounds are also tested in various combinations. Maize, wheat and tomato are chosen as representative crops. Laboratory and European-wide field experiments assure product adaptation to divers geo-climatic conditions. Viable alternatives to the conventional practice of mineral fertilisation are developed, towards environmental friendly agricultural practice with reduced agrochemical input.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2010.1.2-02 | Award Amount: 7.75M | Year: 2011

Organic and low-input dairy farming systems are increasingly noted as delivering multifunctional benefits to the agricultural industry and society but technical and economic constraints prevent widespread adoption. SOLID will deliver an innovative toolbox of novel methodologies that will contribute to the competitiveness of the dairy industry and increase the effectiveness with which these benefits are delivered. SOLID facilitates the use of breeds and feeding strategies to maintain productivity, improve animal health and welfare while meeting the market requirement for high quality milk. A multidisciplinary team comprising academic and stakeholder (SME) partners from across Europe, encompassing dairy cows and goats, will identify and apply novel strategies at the farm level and throughout the supply chain. Innovative science and models, combined with a participatory approach, will tackle practical issues, and assess competitive sustainability and integration across a range of scales and geographical contexts. Proteomics combined with genotyping and calorimetry will be used to characterise and quantify dairy cow and goat breed adaptation to organic and low-input systems. Given the reliance of such systems on forage, SOLID will develop novel and sustainable feed resources and design a decision-support model to optimise the management of on-farm forage supply. Life cycle assessment tools will assess environmental sustainability of grassland-based multifunctional dairy systems. Analysis of the supply chain from fork to farm will quantify the acceptability of new strategies and enhance collaboration. An integrated assessment tool and socio-economic modelling will assess innovations on farms and along supply chains, and will predict the impact of more widespread adoption of low-input practises. Effective knowledge dissemination and exchange activities will target key stakeholder groups ensuring exploitation of outputs at animal, farm, region, sector and European levels.


The requirement for sustainable food production is a global issue to which the EU contributes as a major livestock producer. It is critical to improve animal production efficiency while sustaining environmentally friendly milk production. More profitable dairy production requires increased milk yield, cow health, longevity and fertility; reduced environmental footprint and optimised use of inputs. These are multifactorial problems to achieve. GplusE aims to identify the genotypes controlling biological variation in the important phenotypes of dairy cows, to appreciate how these are influenced by environmental and management factors and thus allow more informed and accurate use of genomic selection. GplusE will link new genomic data in dairy cows to a comprehensive array of phenotypic information going well beyond those existing traits recorded by dairy breeding organisations. It will develop systems that will focus herd and cow management on key time points in production that have a major influence on the rest of the productive cycle including efficiency, environment, physiological status, health, fertility and welfare. This will significantly advance the science, efficiency and management practices in dairy production well beyond the current state-of-the art. The major bioinformatics element of the proposal will illuminate the bovine genome and ensure a reverse flow of information to annotate human and other mammalian genomes; it will ensure training of animal scientists (PhDs & Postdocs) to a high skill level in the use of bioinformatics. The end result of this project will be a comprehensive, integrated identification of genomic-phenotypic associations relevant to dairy production. This information will be translated into benefits for animal breeding and management that will considerably improve sustainable dairy production. It will provide basic biological information into the mechanisms by which genotype, environment and their interaction influence performance.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.1.3-03 | Award Amount: 7.85M | Year: 2013

ECO-FCEs objective is to firstly understand the interactions within the monogastric biological system which create diversity, optimise feed use efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen and phosphorus excretion, whilst not adversely affecting animal health, welfare or product quality. Secondly, ECO-FCE will develop industry-ready tools which will facilitate the selection of breeding stock and nutritional strategies for improved gut health and functionality and host performance. ECO-FCE will achieve these objectives through five scientific work packages. Work package 1 involves a systematic literature review which will collate information in the open and grey literature on the effect of nutrition, gut characteristics and host genetics on feed use efficiency, nutrient utilization, greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen and phosphorus excretion in pigs and poultry. Work package 2 will focus on the effect of nutrition. Aspects including how and when feed is offered and diet ingredients (raw materials and feed additives) will be investigated. Particular focus will be on nutritional strategies to reduce N and P excretion and to accurately determine and reduce GHG emissions. The effect of environment pre birth and nutrition post birth in pigs will also be investigated. Data and samples from WP 2 will then be used in WPs 3 and 4. Initial work in work packages 3 and 4 will specifically focus on common gut and host genetic factors which promote good or poor FCE. Other work in WP 3 will then investigate the feasibility of inoculating pigs and poultry with this good gut microflora. WP 4 will focus on host genomics and will specifically attempt to relate genomic variation to variation in FCE. Further work in this work package will apply omics techniques and will aim to derive biomarkers as tools to improve monogastric FCE. In WP 5 novel, industry-ready tools in the form of models will be developed and tested using data collated throughout the project.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME | Phase: SME-2012-1 | Award Amount: 1.69M | Year: 2012

Pig and poultry farming are amongst the most important agricultural activities in the EU, and significant performance gains were previously achieved through the use of in-feed antibiotics. The THRIVE-RITE project aims to provide a strong competitive advantage in these sectors by maximising the performance using natural feed additives as alternatives to the use of in-feed growth promoting antibiotics, which were recently banned in agriculture. Therefore, as antibiotic growth-promoting effects are no longer available to the industry, there is an urgent need to find innovative and long term solutions to maximising the growth performance and efficiency within the pig and poultry sectors to ensure the benefits of safe, wholesome and a sustainable supply of quality food products to the end user can be achieved. The THRIVE-RITE project will address these issues by undertaking a comprehensive programme of nutrition research to inform the industry of the benefits of functional foods derived from natural sources as additives to animal feed. Natural feed additives produced by a consortia of SMEs will be assessed by research partners to determine (1) their impact on infectious agents that cause major production losses in the pig and poultry industries, (2) to enhance the safety of meat products by reducing the presence of three of the major bacterial infections associated with human food-borne illness (Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli species) and (3) antioxidant value to pig and poultry meat for improving its quality and shelf life. The project will be of benefit to and impact on primary livestock producers, animal health and welfare, SMEs and provide a higher quality product to the end consumer. THRIVE-RITE provides a clear potential for alternatives to in-feed antibiotics and the program is designed to ensure that the information is disseminated to provide effective tools and long-term solutions to the industry for livestock health and production management.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-EF-ST | Phase: MSCA-IF-2014-EF | Award Amount: 183.45K | Year: 2016

Emerging viruses pose a significant threat to animal health and welfare, food security and rural prosperity. When porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2) emerged in the late 1990s after circulating in pig populations for at least several decades before. The associated disease post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) is estimated to have cost the EU over 600 M euros per year at its peak. The emergence of a highly pathogenic strain of porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDV) in the US and Asia has resulted in the death of millions of pigs and the economic costs are still being counted. Here we propose a research project that will increase our understanding of emerging, evolving or novel viruses in swine in order to allow assessment of and improved response to, current and future socioeconomic threats to the European agri-food industry. This project aims to: (1) Develop, enhance and apply a range of classic and beyond the state-of-the-art diagnostic methods for the detection of emerging, evolving or novel viruses in swine in a world-class institute with a long history of successful virology research including identification and commercialisation of PCV2; (2) To statistically establish disease association of detected viruses with these considering viral load aspects of infection; (3) To statistically establish disease association of combinations of virus in co-infection scenarios; (4) To develop next generation sequencing (NGS) methods to allow characterisation of the entire viral flora of pigs with particular disease states; (5) To parallel these research activities with a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary training programme including laboratory and non-laboratory scientific and IT skills as well as training in a range of professional skills to provide a competitive advantage in the job market for the next stage of their career. This will allow improved horizon scanning for as well as rapid response to emerging threats to the swine industry.

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