A strategic research partnership worth €17.6m has been announced between Origin Enterprises and University College Dublin.

A dedicated digital, precision agriculture and crop science collaborative research partnership will be established, while the partnership will also be supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

Origin Enterprises is a focused Agri-Services group providing on-farm agronomy advice as well as the supply of crop technologies and inputs.

The five year development programme underpinning the research partnership will be financed by a €17.6m investment, which is set to be co-funded by Origin and SFI.

The collaboration is set to combine the leading expertise of UCD in data science and agricultural science with Origin’s integrated crop management research, systems capabilities and extensive on-farm knowledge exchange networks.

The aim of the programme is to build a digitally based and user driven advisory tools that provide rapid and localised decision support for both agronomists and farmers.

A key aspect of the development will be the creation of a scalable crop intelligence platform, which will incorporate consistent and real time data analytical approaches to optimise sustainable crop performance.

Origin Enterprises is delighted to collaborate with UCD, while also having the support of SFI, according to Origin’s Chief Executive Officer, Tom O’Mahony.

The collaboration provides Origin with a development platform which accesses the very substantial intellectual capacity, advanced data analytics, sensing technologies and modelling resources of UCD.

“The merging of conventional crop science and agronomic application with digital technology and prescriptive data analytics will enhance Origin’s knowledge-intensive offering along with improving the capacity to scale our service,” he said.

Meanwhile, this new partnership will hopefully put Irish research at the forefront of new and innovative approaches for future farming systems, Professor Orla Feely, the UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, said.

Professor Feely believes that the multi-disciplinary research teams at UCD will use their research expertise in data science and agriculture, together with Origin’s industry experts, to address the issue of crop sustainability.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates our strategy of building a portfolio of strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships within the industry which can deliver impact to the economy and society in Ireland and globally,” she said.

Investing in research that enhances the agri-food industry while protecting Ireland’s natural resources is vital for the country’s future, the Director General of Science Foundation Ireland Professor Mark Ferguson believes.

Professor Ferguson, who is also the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, also said that the SFI Strategic Partnership Programme supports unique research partnerships with strong potential for impact on the Irish economy.

Combining the resources and expertise from these organisations will secure Ireland’s international position in the field of data-driven agriculture.

“The proposed integrated crop model will have global implications in the sustainable production of crops, addressing the challenge of food production for a rapidly expanding global population.”