Technology for Transforming Irish Agri-Food and Bioeconomy

  • 22nd June 2016
  • by secretary

22 June 2016. Brussels. Launch of the Teagasc Technology Foresight Report 2035.  The Teagasc Technology Foresight report identifies the key technologies that will shape and influence the farms of 2035. Over 200 national and international scientists, policymakers and industry representatives contributed to the foresight process over the past 18 months to help identify these potentially transformative technologies.


  • The Teagasc Technology Foresight report provides a comprehensive and well-researched source of evidence for policy decisions relating to future science and technology programmes. 
  • The primary users of the report will be research and policy makers and key players in the industry.
  • This Foresight Report has identified the technology areas which Teagasc will prioritise in its research programmes to support Ireland’s agriculture and food sectors in facing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 
  • Without coordination of the full complement of stakeholders, not just the researchers, it will be very difficult to arrive at a system which creates jobs and equitably distributes the gains realised by the new technologies discussed in this Report.

The launch informed key players in research and policy fields about the potential benefits and risks associated with powerful new technologies and support the need for the type of informed decision-making which will be required in the coming years if Europe is to reap the benefits and minimise the risks of highly disruptive technologies in the broad bioeconomy sector. You can see the programme here

Extracts of the report:

Agriculture in particular faces significant challenges in the coming decades not only in Ireland, but in Europe and elsewhere around the world. On the one hand, it must produce more food for a growing, increasingly affluent global population that requires a more diverse, protein-rich diet. But it must also compete for lucrative new markets, while vying for access to increasingly scarce natural resources, preserving biodiversity, water and soil quality, restoring fragile ecosystems and mitigating the effects of climate change. (page 5)

We are beginning to understand how the microbiota of the rumen in livestock has an impact on
feed conversion and rate of emission of GHG . We are also beginning to understand how the microbiota of the soil has an impact on issues such as grassland productivity, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. These insights will help us improve the performance of the beef and dairy sectors based on better nutritional strategies for livestock and the grasslands they feed on.
(page 6)

The beef farm sector continues to be characterised by very large numbers of small producers,
some part-time, with comparatively low farm incomes and a very high reliance on direct payments as a source of income. Innovation and technology adoption rates remain low on many small and part-time farms with little incentive to innovate given the high-reliance on direct payments. Improving the productivity and profitability of these farms will be a persistent challenge for both research and knowledge transfer over the next ten to twenty years.
(page 10)

‘Smart Agriculture’ technologies are not yet available at commercial scale. According to research by Accenture4, applications are currently only partly implemented, if at all, and mainly in developed
countries on large farms. The vast majority of smallholders are yet to adopt these technologies.
(page 11)

It is clear that the current dependency on chemical protectants is becoming, or indeed has
become unsustainable. (…) While seeking to reduce the potential occurrence of chemical residues in water systems-and ultimately in the food chain-is fundamentally logical, it has been predicted that this approach will have a negative impact on crop protection measures, because a reduction in the availability of active chemistries will lead to an overuse of the remaining compounds. Hence,
this will drive the evolution of resistance in pest/pathogen/weed populations for the remaining active
chemicals.12 Such a scenario will seriously undermine the viability of several crop systems, if alternative measures of disease mitigation are not identified and integrated into crop rotations. (…) Accordingly, there is an increased need to develop integrated pest control measures that incorporate genetic resistance supported by chemical and/or agronomic interventions. Biotechnology has a crucial role to play in this integrated approach through the use of new techniques of molecular biology and networks of sensors. 
(page 18)

The growing global population, increasing urbanisation and rising incomes will not only increase the overall global demand for food and agricultural products, but also lead to a greater demand for higher quality and processed food. (…) Aspects such as food safety, quality, traceability and health-promoting properties of food will all become more important as the sustainable lifestyles trend gains
(page 19)