Ireland: €1m investigation into in-field sensors for barley and potato disease begins

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD, with Dr Alan O’Riordan, research fellow at Tyndall National Institute. Image: Gerard McCarthyBacked with a €1m investment from the Department of Agriculture, a number of research institutions are looking to get to the bottom of crop disease. Ireland’s two most important crops are barley and potato, and disease poses a significant challenge to these and many other strands of agriculture. With that in mind, Scope, a new research project addressing the issue, brings Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, Dublin City University (DCU) and Teagasc together to investigate the problem and develop an antibody-based sensor. Barley crops in Ireland suffer from Rhynchosporium commune or ‘leaf scald’, and the potato sector has experienced a significant increase in virus-based diseases, resulting in reduced yield. “A vital step in addressing barley and potato crop disease is the implementation of adequate surveillance strategies so that rapid, in-field diagnosis can be made,” said Dr Alan O’Riordan, research fellow at Tyndall National Institute. Irish company MagGrow developed a device last year that reduces unwanted and potentially dangerous drift from crop spraying, winning an international prize in the process. The company attaches of a series of magnetic inserts onto a sprayer and an electromagnetic charge is infused into the liquid spray, resulting in targeted attraction. More