Presentation and poster winners at the 12th BGS Research Conference

Presentation and poster winners at the 12th BGS Research Conference

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

From 7th – 9th September over 50 delegates gathered in Aberystwyth for the 12th BGS Research Conference, providing a platform for new grassland research to be presented and discussed amongst current, past and future researchers from a wide range of grassland disciplines.

One element that the conference certainly reflected was the wide and expanding field of grassland research, from that which is almost ready to be applied in the farming context, to new technologies and ‘blue skies’ areas. The post-dinner speech given by Prof. Chris Pollock (past head of grassland research at IBERS) even alluded to how this proliferation may have come about; the ending of an area of production focused research in the 1980’s, being replaced with a science-led (perhaps disconnected) approach and more recently being influenced by systems thinking and the requirement for all research to have multiple beneficial outcomes, e.g. not just for grassland farming but for the wider environment, or for human health and so on as well.

Two prizes were donated by AHDB for the best theatre presentation and best overall poster submitted to the conference. The two winners demonstrate the emerging practical side of grassland side which strives to increasingly integrate more precise technology with more accurate  and efficient grassland management.

Mary Harty, a  PhD student with Teagasc and Queen’s University, scooped the award for best theatre presentation with her paper entitled NITROGEN FERTILISER FORMULATION: THE IMPACT ON YIELD AND GASEOUS EMISSIONS IN TEMPERATE GRASSLAND. The poster award went to Amy Farrington, a young researcher at IBERS for her visual summary of the USE OF THE PLANTEYE LASER SCANNER FOR ASSESSING YIELD AND GROUND COVER IN FORAGE BREEDING.

Mary Harty’s research is investigating the differences between uptake, yield and nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions from field applications of CAN and urea fertilisers with and without urase and nitrification inhibitors. From her sites in the Republic of and Northern Ireland she has so far seen that switching from a CAN to urea fertiliser reduced nitrous oxide emissions in sites with impeded drainage conditions. However the research also highlights the risk of swapping one type of nitrogen emission for another without necessarily reducing overall levels. She concluded that stabilised urea formulation has potential to reduce both direct and indirect nitrous oxide emissions compared to CAN in temperate grassland whilst maintaining grass production. The experiment was a joint collaboration between Teagasc in the Republic of Ireland and Agrifood and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland

The development of the plant eye laser scanner that poster winner Amy Farrington has been involved with stems from the premise that perennial ryegrass is favoured in British agriculture for it trait of persistency, however the quantitative measurement of persistency in both breeding and on-farm situations is limited, often only being monitored by qualitative (visual) assessment of yield and ground cover. The plant eye is a 3D laser that measures leaf height and area. Amy’s research showed that measurements from the laser correlated well with analysis of fresh dry matter from the plots and therefore recommended the potential of development of systems incorporating the laser for field use.

Picture shows Mary Harty with her certificate at the Conference



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