Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon has announced over €2.5 million funding for research initiatives on soil and agri-information and communication technologies (ICT).

The funding covers Ireland’s participation in two important European research initiatives, the minister with special responsibility for research and innovation said.

€1.5 million will be provided for a new European Joint Programme (EJP) on agricultural-soil research, while over €1 million will be made available for a European Research Area Network (ERA-NET).

Speaking on yesterday’s (Tuesday, May 3) announcement, Minister Heydon said:

“I am committed to ensuring Irish researchers have the appropriate access to national and international research funding in areas of priority for us, to ensure we are at the forefront of devising solutions for our farmers and the wider agri-food sector.”

The research also has the potential to connect in with national research being conducted, such as through the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory and the pilot Soil Sampling Programme, he added.


The aim of the EJP-SOIL call is to provide knowledge on farming practices and soil health that contribute to climate-change mitigation and adaptation.

This will also support research to assess farm-level carbon balances to enhance implementation of climate action on farms, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) said.

The EJP SOIL call is the second International EJP soil-research funding call, for which Irish financial support is provided through the DAFM Research Programme.

In relation to this research call, Minister Heydon said it will improve the understanding of soil’s sequestration and storage potential, and allow better mapping of soil carbon and nutrient profiles.


The ICT-AGRI-FOOD ERA-NET aims to bring researchers together with actors from across the entire agri-food system, including primary producers, retailers and consumers, to enable digital-technology solutions for a transition towards sustainable and transparent agri-food systems. The minister said:

“The topics under investigation in the ICT call include technologies for improved food-system transparency, barriers and data for more sustainable farming practices. This ties in very closely with many of the commitments in the Food Vision 2030 strategy.”

The ICT-AGRI-FOOD ERA-NET is a network of ministries, agencies and research institutes from 22 countries. The research call allows for project submissions across four areas:

  • The development of technologies that make agri-food systems more transparent for consumers and other stakeholders along the value chain;
  • The identification of barriers and solutions for adoption of ICT technologies in agri-food systems;
  • The promotion of digital tools that are connected to each other;
  • The development and evaluation of data-driven incentive systems to support sustainable and resilient farm management practices.

Besides the €1 million contribution by the DAFM, Teagasc contributes €288,000 in the form of three Walsh scholarships which promote the scientific and technical capacity of the Irish agri-food sector.

These research calls follow a number of others recently announced by Minister Heydon, including €1.5 million for a new European research call on agro-biodiversity, and a further €0.5 million to enable Irish participation in a European-led ‘Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ call.