We were delighted to bring together leaders from the agricultural and food sectors across Ireland and the UK at UCD Lyons Farm to share insights and technical innovations, in a panel discussion chaired by UCD President, Professor Orla Feely.

Martin Heydon, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, spoke about how economic sustainability for Irish farmers and producers is as important as environmental and social sustainability. There are many challenges for farmers and the agri-food industry to address, including reducing the emissions profile for agriculture and addressing water quality.

Padraig Hennessy, CEO of TERRA NutriTECH and Chairman of Agtech Ireland, and Hugh Martineau, Technical Director of UK-based Sustainability at Map of Ag, discussed the integral role of the agri-food industry in the economy and society of both Ireland and the UK.

Also joining the panel discussion was Professor Karina Pierce from UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, which is the destination of choice for students in Ireland interested in developing their careers in the agri-food sector. Indeed, the School’s Agriculture and Food Science programmes deliver education and research on the complete food chain, from initial on-farm production through processing to final consumption (From farm to fork).

UCD is unique amongst universities in Ireland in having its own teaching and research farm, which provides students and academics with direct access to large animal and crop enterprises. The beautiful and historic Lyons Farm forms an integral part of the teaching and research infrastructure of the College of Health and Agricultural Sciences, and specifically of the School of Agriculture and Food Science and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Professor Frank Monahan, Head of the School of Agriculture and Food Science at UCD, spoke about the university’s ambitious plans to further develop Lyons Farm. Many of the existing laboratory and student facilities were established in converted farm buildings in the 1970s, and they are no longer fit for purpose. UCD Lyons Farm Knowledge Centre is a central component of the next phase of development, which will provide cutting-edge research laboratories, teaching facilities and offices, and flexible spaces that can be adapted to meet the changing needs of academic programmes and public engagement activities.