MU researchers to receive funding for sustainable soil project

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MU researchers to receive funding for sustainable soil project

Researchers at Maynooth University (MU) are to receive €243,000 from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) for an innovative agriculture project to support sustainable soil health.

The project, DNet4SSoils, aims to improve the long term health of soils in the context of a changing climate and support low-input agriculture. The project aims to reduce farmers’ need for fertilization.

The funding is part of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) National Challenge, and has been given to departments of biology and electronic engineering to advance the innovative project.

Over the next 18 months, the MU team will work with the Irish Organic Association to create a new “low cost technology platform” for sustainable soil that will enable farmers to evaluate their land in more detail than currently possible.

The MU team is one of 25 to compete in the Future Food Systems Challenge that gives academic research teams an opportunity to contribute to Ireland’s efforts in creating sustainable, productive and resilient food systems.

The leader of the project, from the department of biology, Dr. Conor Meade, said there is a need to “future proof” our soils in the face of climate change.

“By the middle of this century Irish famers will face the dual challenge of drought due to climate change and the need to move toward low fertiliser farming. This presents an acute pressure point for Irish agriculture.

“Working with the most important resource on every farm – the soil – our project aims to simplify the process of identifying ideal soil and crop matches at a local level, based on local farming expertise, and focused on building climate resilience into farming practice,” Dr. Meade said.

Speaking at the launch of the National Challenge Fund, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD said:

“This kind of solution driven research will help us to tackle the big societal changes we face as we become a green and digital country, and I am already looking forward to the years ahead as we see the projects advance.”


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