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Second Level Support Service for Agricultural Science There are many exciting developments in Agricultural Science in recent months, one of which is the Second Level Support Service for Agricultural Science. At present there is a teacher design team in place to set up many supports for new Agricultural Science Teachers. They will be holding induction days during the autumn of 2010 in various Education Centres around the country. We believe there may be changes to the support structures moving forward and we will inform you when we know more. For the present log onto for more details and dates. This site is currently under construction but will be up and running very soon.

Coming Soon! We are currently working on the development and updating of our website. We hope to launch our revamped site in the near future and will keep you up to date with progress as we move towards the launch !

REPS 4 Since the beginning of the first REPS scheme in 1994 over 3 billion euros has been paid out to Irish farmers in order to achieve the three core objectives of the scheme. To improve water quality, preserve and improve biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gases. The scheme itself has a duration of 5 years for each farmer. To join the scheme a comprehensive plan has to be drawn up by a qualified REPS planner. This plan analyses every aspect of each individual farmers enterprise, from the quality of land, number of livestock, housing facilities, crop areas, habitat evaluation, etc. The REPS plan is comprises of 11 basic measures; 1. Nutrient Management 2. Grassland & Soil Management 3. Protection & maintenance of watercourses, water bodies & wells 4. Retention of wildlife habitats 5. Maintenance of farm & field boundaries 6. Restricted use of pesticides and fertilisers 7. Establishment of biodiversity strips surrounding features of historical & archaeological interest 8. Maintenance & improvement of visual appearance of farm & farmyard

9. Tillage crop production 10. Training in environmentally friendly farming practices 11. The maintenance of farm & environmental records In association with farming under the rules of each of the above measures, the farmer would have also been obliged to chose a number of 'Biodiversity Options' to carry out over the course of his plan. The number of these 'Biodiversity Options' that the farmer needs to carry out is determined by the percentage of 'habitat area' in existence on the farm. Habitat areas can range from areas of scrubland, woodlands, and ponds etc, generally areas that are not capable of supporting intensive agriculture. Some farmers have very little or no habitat areas on their farms while others have an abundance of these areas. Farmers are subject to inspection throughout the term of their REPS contract to ensure that they are carrying out the works outlined in their plans.


“Agriculture is the noblest of all alchemy; for it turns earth, and even manure, into gold, conferring upon its cultivator the additional reward of health.” Paul Chatfield


Volume 1, Issue 1 - Spring/Summer 2010

Welcome to our 1st Newsletter! Well, here it is - Edition 1 of our new look, just launched newsletter! We are delighted to bring this new publication directly to every Agricultural Science teacher in the country and we hope you enjoy reading it in detail!

the tide of current economic events we are most appreciative of the sponsorship of the Farmers Journal, AgriAware and Briody Drilling. Without the generosity and support of these sponsors, this publication would not have been possible.

In the past, newsletters have taken various shapes and forms as they reach schools, and there is no doubt we will shortly be entering an era of e-newsletters.

In moving forward for our next publication early in the new academic year, we would very much like to hear your views and contributions for the next issue. Please send any and all of your comments, stories and suggested resource list to prior to the end of August. We look forward to receiving your contributions and will include as many as possible in the next publication.

As this is our first publication we are also attempting to build an accurate database of Agricultural Science teachers. We decided to print something you could hold in your hand and enjoy reading. As the country tries to swim slowly out of

The IASTA AGM for members was held in Mitchelstown, on 26th & 27th February last and hosted by the Cork IASTA branch. Rachel Creamer gave an excellent presentation on soil science on Friday night, and linked world food production to politics to land grabbers and to nematodes living in the soil.

• Have the Laboratory neat and tidy. • Organise the Projects in munerical order according to exam number. • Have 10 -12 plants (weeds) of agricultural importance displayed. • Also display pictures of breeds of animals and invertebrates. • It is also good practice to set up 4-6 experiments.


The following day in Moorepark we had a display in scientific research at the highest level and its applications to dairy farmers and

Newsletter Editors Veronica Walsh Damian Phelan

Membership of IASTA Benefits of IASTA Membership include: • The availability of a teaching pack of resources for the agricultural science classroom. • Access to courses organised by IASTA in local Education Centres. • Access to online resources. • Receiving of regular updates via newsletters, e-mails and text. • A regular opportunity to meet and network with other agricultural science teachers.

I.A.S.T.A irish agricultural science teachers’ association

Conference & AGM Success!

Each year a huge number of penalties are handed out to farmers for breaches of certain rules within each measure of the overall scheme. Advice for Teachers for day of Agricultural Science Oral Examination


indeed to teachers in the rapidly changing quota free world. After dinner, the expert, helpful and friendly staff at Moorepark showed delegates research on calf-rearing and housing innovations, milking and milk testing and also the importance of grassland, including different varieties, grassland measurement and poaching avoidance. The conference was an excellent experience.Sincere thanks to those who contributed to the success.

Marty Barrett Memorial Award Marty Barrett B. Agr. Sc., H. Dip Ed. 1951-2009 Marty Barrett hailed from Ballymacward, Co. Galway and taught in St. Peter's College, Co. Wexford. Always honest and hardworking, he was one of the first

people to recognise a need for improvement in the organisation and teaching of Agricultural Science. He was the driving force behind the setting up of IASTA and was it’s first chairman. In Memory of Marty, IASTA will present an award to the student attaining the highest

mark in the Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science paper 2010. which will be adjudicated by the department subject Inspector. The award has been kindly sponsored by the Farmers Journal and will be presented to the student at the IASTA AGM.


There seems to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.” Benjamin Franklin

Dairy Digest At present there are 19,000 Dairy Farmers in Ireland supplying 5.2 million tonnes of milk (with 1 million dairy cows), 85% of which is exported ie. 4.5 million tons. Ireland is ranked 31st largest milk producer in the world with an average herd size of approximately 42 cows and getting 36 cent per litre. India is ranked number one producer in the world with an average herd size of 3 cows!!. New Zealand is ranked 9th, and gets 10 cent per litre. 80-85% of Irish farmers utilise the spring calving system with the remainder as autumn calvers which supply the liquid milk market and Bailey’s Irish Cream. MILK USE IN IRELAND Butter 53% Cheese 30% Whole Milk 6% Chocolate Crumb 1% Baby Food 4% Other 6%

Agricultural Shows 2010 Galway Charleville Virginia Bonniconlon Tinahely Tullamore Cappamore Iverk Piltown

Provisional Dates Only

19th & 20th June 26th & 27th June Sat. 31st July Mon. 2nd August Mon. 2nd August Sun. 8th August Wed. 18th August Sat. 28th August

IASTA is a member of the Teacher Professional Network and gratefully acknowledges their continued help and support with various projects.

teacher professional networks

Useful information on Potatoes that can be used in the Classroom • 30,000 acres planted yearly • Meath is the most popular county for potatoes as the soil is a heavy loam. • Potato farmers prefer leys to sow potatoes as the soil is free from wireworm, scutch, eelworm and has few stones. • Seed planted: 40% Kerr Pinks, 11% British Queen, 7% Records, 6% Lady Records (Meath only, used for processing crisps) , 6% Golden Wonder. • No Frozen Chips made in Ireland they are all imported. • Potato seed from Donegal is virus free. • 21 tests are performed on potato seed. 99% germination is essential. • Potash is good for increasing the number of tubers. Use 10:10:20 at 10 bags/acre (depending on soil).

• Blight came from Mexico to South of England. On 20th May 1845 it was first noticed in the botanical gardens.

• The crop can be sprayed up to 20 times per season. • Not all is lost however, if blight does take hold it can be sprayed with a curative fungicide twice a day, four days apart. • Earthing up is not practiced widely now as drills are deep enough, at time of sowing.

Trends in Agricultural Science These graphs illustrate the ever increasing numbers of students taking the Agricultural Science paper for their Leaving Certificate. 2010 figures are based on October returns and will be finalised later in the year. The top graph indicates the number of schools offering Agricultural Science as a Leaving Certificate option. This is a credit to the dedicated teachers of the subject who are obviously making it a very interesting and fashionable subject to learn.

266 233 211 194 2007




Schools offering Agricultural Science since 2007

6024 4267



2007 2008 2009 2010 Students taking the Agricultural Science exam

News Contributions This newsletter would not have been possible without the many contributions received from a large number of people. If you have a contribution for our next newsletter then please mail to:

Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together. Jonathan Swift

EBI and Genomic Selection The ideal cow for Ireland is a cow which will efficiently deliver high milk solids from grazed grass and go back in calf year on year. To identify this cow the following systems are used. Economic Breeding Index (EBI) is a tool to compare animals with regard to the expected profitability of their progeny based on genetic differences. The EBI is available to Irish dairy farmers to identify the most profitable animals under average systems.

Genomics is the study of the DNA of an animal. Genomic selection is a new tool to help identify more accurately an animal with a high EBI, based on analysis of the DNA of the animal. Because DNA stays the same throughout life, a DNA sample from hair, blood or tissue can be taken from a calf and subsequently used to predict how the animal will perform and how their offspring will perform. Semen samples from over 1000 A.I. bulls were collected and their DNA extricated to provide a DNA signataure for each bull. These DNA signatures were used to determine what segments of the DNA were associated with performance such as milk yield and fertility.

Genomic selection in Ireland is currently only being undertaken between Holstein-Freisians due to lack of reliability proofs on a large number of sires from other breeds.

Newsletter Sponsors It would not have been possible to produce this newsletter without the generous and valued sponsorship of the Farmers Journal, Agri Aware & Briody Drilling.

Norwegian Red Latest research at Moorepark has shown that a cross between a Norwegian Red and a Holstein –Freisian gives high milk yield coupled with superior reproductive efficiency and udder health. Overall the Norwegian Red X Holstein–Freisian indicated to be €130 more profitable than the Holstein–Freisian contemporaries.




Coffee The biggest producer of Coffee in the world is Brazil, while the biggest consumer of Coffee is the United States (2006 figures)

Useful Websites Norwegian Red X Holstein The main aims of crossbreeding is firstly to introduce favourable genes from another breed selected more strongly for traits of interest e.g. high fertility and secondly to remove the negative effects associated with inbreeding depression and finally, for many traits to capitalise on hybrid vigour!

Newly Elected Officers of IASTA Chairperson:

Damian Phelan


Noirin Buckley


George Dennis

Ass’t Treasurer: Stephanie Flannery. PR Officer:

Veronica Walsh

Lionraí Proifisiúnta Múinteoirí



IASTA Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 1  

The fist newsletter from the Irish Agricultural Science Teachers' Association.

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