IRISH AGRICULTURE SERIES (TG4)
Feirm was a six part series about innovation in Irish agriculture on TG4. Irish agriculture is thriving like never before and our produce is held in the highest regard globally. Ireland is leading the pack in terms of technological advances that are redefining farming in the 21st century. FEIRM brings us from the heartlands to the labs, from factories to forests as we get an insight into the ever-changing and adaptable world of Irish agriculture. In this exciting series we are given a clear view of today’s cutting-edge technology and innovation that will shape tomorrow’s farming.
Our host Jamie Costin is a dairy farmer from An Rinn, Co. Waterford. Having represented Ireland as an Olympic walker, he has a keen understanding of what it takes to keep abreast of innovative techniques. Over the course of 6 programmes Jamie will meet innovators from every part of the agricultural industry; from fellow famers and pioneering agricultural scientists to multi-million euro indigenous companies such as Dairymaster. Experts from Teagasc, UCD, the Department of Agriculture, Bord na Móna, Glanbia and Treemetrics share cutting-edge research with us in their labs and research sites.
Feirm introduces the consumer to the people, projects and products which will transform our country into a world leader in agricultural innovation. Agriculture has been one of the finest success stories of recent years and growth is set to continue in the years ahead. It is unsurprising that many young people are lining up to study agricultural science and many others – like our host Jamie Costin – are returning to farming.
Feirm host Jamie Costin
PROGRAMME 1 - DAIRY
Jamie visits Padraig O’Scanaill in County Dublin who has been a Dairy farmer for over 30 years. What changes has he seen?
We follow the journey of Jamie’s milk from his farm to Glanbia where we meet Jim O’ Neill. Jim takes us on a tour of the plant to show us what Glanbia class as “liquid gold” and the way of the future with the whey product they are extracting and selling all over the world.
Local maverick dairy farmer Pat Ryan in Waterford has bred a new breed of cow to capitalize on the Glanbia global market and produce more solids in his milk.
With the national dairy herd increasing next year, Jamie pays a visit to Dairymaster in Kerry to see first hand the technology and innovation that is taking place in milking equipment. Using their products you can now monitor everything from milking and cooling to the cows in heat from your mobile phone.
On the UCD Lyons research farm we meet Dr.Karina Pierce who shows us the research that is taking place to replace cereal being fed to cows with other food substitutes like palm kernels.
PROGRAMME 2 - PIGS AND SHEEP
Jamie makes a trip to the International Golden Shears event in County Wexford to find out from Irish Farmers Journal livestock expert Darren Carty what the current status of the sheep industry is in Ireland.
Dr. Michael Diskin from in Teagasc, Athenry shows us what research is going on regarding sheep breeding. On the hills of west Galway Jamie samples the delights of Connemara Hill Lamb and Brendan Joyce tells us how important traceability is to their PGI branded product. Traceability is also at the top of the list for the Irish pig and pork industry. Pat O’Flaherty explains to Jamie about a new initiative by the Irish Farmers Association to test Irish pork products and ensure their origin is actually Ireland.
What does seaweed and feeding antibiotics to pigs have in common? Truly Irish Country Foods and UCD have come together to find out more. With over 50 free range pigs running free on his farm James Burke reckons his pigs are the happiest pigs in Ireland. Jamie gets to meet the family and sample the new product that will put James on the pigs back.
PROGRAMME 3 - CEREAL
Jamie asks how does the cereal sector in this country work and where do we fit on a global scale? We meet Mark Browne in Wexford to see how his malting barley crop is coming along. Innovation and quality are important in his field and we see what new technologies are helping him succeed.
Fiona Doohan from UCD loves disease and isn’t afraid to admit it. She is carrying out ongoing research to stay ahead of cereal disease but is it possible? Jamie meets cereal famer Kevin Nolan in Carlow during the rapeseed harvest. Kevin looks to the skies for his operation as he relies heavily on satellites to guide his tractors and combine harvesters around the field.
In Boormalt it’s harvest time and full steam ahead to take in the years grain for the malting industry. Mark Brown arrives with his grain and Tom Bryan shows us around this mega factory.
The micro brewing industry has exploded in Ireland and in Dingle Tom Crean lives on in the from of an ale. Jamie samples the golden nectar of the Dingle Brewing company.
PROGRAMME 4 - FORESTRY
Teagasc forestry expert Nuala Ní Fhlatharta visits Jamie on his farm and asseses his forest to tell him if his 8 acres of forest is ready for harvest. In County Cork we encounter a very passionate forestry farmer. Liam Beechinor has the best of both farming and forestry with a new innovation called Agro Forestry.
Apart from timber production what else are our forests used for? Dr. Áine Ní Dhubhain from UCD explains the role Forests play in carbon reduction. It is estimated that 20% of the value of forest is lost at harvesting time. Jamie speaks to Cian Mac a’ Bhaird from Treemetrics, the company that is developing new technology to counteract these losses.
John O’Connell in Co.Limerick has a completely different use for his trees. Jamie pays him a visit to see how he grows shitake, oyster and truffle mushrooms in his forest. Jamie meets Pádraig Ó Tuama from Coillte in Lough Key Forest Park in Co.Roscommon to experience the other benefits Irish forests have to offer such as recreation.
PROGRAMME 5 - HORTICULTURE
Horticultural advisor Stiofán Nutty meets Jamie at Smithfield Fruit and Vegetable market to update him on the current status of the Irish fruit and vegetable industry. Stiofán gives him the facts and figures on Ireland’s representation in the national and gobal fruit and veg markets.
Keelings is a well known Irish brand of fruit and vegetables. Jamie meets with David Keeling in North County Dublin to find out about their new glass house technology and natural pesticides. Jamie takes a trip to Bord na Móna Horticulture’s composting site in Athy to meet with Dearbhail Ní Chualáin who explains to him about their innovative products to reduce the use of peat in compost.
Úna Ní Bhroin runs Beechlawn Organic Farm in Ballinalsoe, Co.Galway. She explains to Jamie about the organic fruit and veg market in Ireland and how they have steadily grown their business since 2002. Jamie takes a trip to Fitzgerald Nurseries in Kilkenny to meet with owner Pat Fitzgerald who explains to him about plant propagation and cloning and shows him samples of his now very popular primroses.
PROGRAMME 6 - BEEF
There are over 70,000 farmers involved in the beef industry in Ireland. Vet and journalist Peadar Ó Scanaill talks to Jamie about the current status of the Irish beef industry and how the market prices are dictated.
Jamie meets Steve Locke from Monford Ag Systems have developed a new technology for measuring grass. At Teagasc in Grange, Co.Meath David Kenny talks to Jamie about the research they are doing on a nationwide fertility programme. Sinead Watters meets Jamie in Whetherybys, Co.Kildare where she explains to Jamie about the beef genomics programme also starting in Ireland.
Dingle butcher Páidí Ó Muircheartaigh explains about market trends in beef and what the modern day Irish consumer wants.
The Dingle Dexter Food Company re-introduced the breed of dexter cattle to the area. Jamie meets with dexter breeder and farmer Paddy Fenton about the supplementary feed they feed the cattle.
David Leydon from the Irish Farmers Journal speaks to Jamie about the changes that we have seen in the Irish beef industry over the past few years and the what the future holds for beef in Ireland.