Crop production research grants worth €856,000 awarded

Award grants of over €856,000 for Irish researchers collaborating in four transnational projects arising from the first competitive call under the European Research Area Network (ERA-NET) Sustainable Crop Production (SusCrop) has been welcomed by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

Announcing the awards Minister Creed said: “Guaranteeing the food and nutrient security for a growing population is one of our society’s most pressing challenges and in order to meet these demands we will require significant gains in terms of efficiency, productivity and environmental sustainability in our crop production systems.

“Today’s research funding announcement recognises the leading role that Irish researchers and research institutions are playing in this critical area and builds on the spirit of international cooperation, alignment and knowledge sharing which will be of profound benefit to the Irish agri-food sector.”

An ERA-NET Cofund Action under Horizon 2020, SusCrop aims to strengthen the European Research Area in the field of Sustainable Crop Production through enhanced cooperation and coordination of different national and regional research programmes.

It is supported in Ireland’s case through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Research Stimulus Fund and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme.

The principle objective of SusCrop is to address modern crop production systems by taking into account the whole food value chain, crop diversity and resilience, resource use efficiency, nutrient recycling, ecosystem services, limiting negative environmental impacts, integrated pest management, reducing and re-using waste and achieving food and nutritional security.

In response to the SusCrop’s 2018 Call for Research Proposals, four projects involving Irish collaborators were funded.

These include:
  • ProFaba – Developing improved Vicia faba (Broad Bean) breeding practices and varieties to drive domestic protein production in the European Union – Dr. Sheila Alves, Teagasc Crops Research;
  • WheatSustain – Knowledge-driven genomic predictions for sustainable disease resistance in wheat – Dr. Julio Isidro-Sánchez, University College Dublin, Animal and Crop Science;
  • PotatoMETAbiome – Harnessing the potato-microbiome interactions for development of sustainable breeding and production strategies – Dr. Achim Schmalenberger, University of Limerick, Biological Sciences; and
  • DIFFUGAT – A novel Fixation-Restitution Breeding method for potato – Dr. Dan Milbourne, Teagasc, Crop Science.

In wishing the applicants success the minister stated: “I am delighted that my department was in a position to help facilitate this Irish success through the provision of seed funding.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the applicants and their European and international collaborators on their success in what was, no doubt, a highly competitive funding call.”