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€2.5m Funding for Soil and Agri-ICT Research Initiatives

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for research and innovation, Martin Heydon, has announced over €2.5 million in research funding for Irish participation in 2 important European research initiatives on soil and agri-ICT research.

€1.5 million will be provided for a new European Joint Programme (EJP) on Agricultural Soils research funding call, while over €1 million in funding will also be made available for a European Research Area Network (ERA-NET).

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. Among other things, it will support research to assess farm level carbon balances to enhance implementation of climate action at farm level. 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.

Meanwhile, the ‘ICT-AGRI-FOOD’ ERA-NET aims to bring researchers together with actors from across the entire agri-food system, including primary producers, advisors, SMEs, processors, retailers, consumers and public policy and regulatory bodies to enable digital technology solutions for a transition towards sustainable and transparent agri-food systems.

Speaking on the announcement, Minister Heydon stated, “I am delighted to announce funding for these 2 important European research initiatives which will enable Irish researchers’ to take part. The topics under investigation in the ICT Call include technologies for improved food system transparency, barriers, and data for more sustainable farming practices. which tie in very closely with many of the commitments in the Food Vision 2030 Strategy.”

In relation to the EJP-Soil Call, the Minister said, “Food Vision 2030 also highlights that good soil health is critical in terms of agricultural output, producing nutrient-dense food, sequestering carbon, supporting habitats and biodiversity, and building resilience against climate change. This call will enable us to improve our understanding of soils sequestration and storage potential, improve their health and productivity, and better map soil carbon and nutrient profiles.”

Minister Heydon concluded by saying, “the opening of these research Calls comes on foot of a number of others I have recently announced, including €1.5 million for a new European research Call on agro-biodiversity, a further €0.5 million to enable Irish participation in a European led ‘Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ Call, as well as the opening of the 2022 Call for proposals in agricultural research under the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership. 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 to the forefront of devising solutions for our farmers and the wider agri-food sector.”