Two Northern Ireland research institutions - AFBI and Ulster University - are set to benefit from more than £362,000 of new funding for fish and sustainable livestock farming research projects.

The farming project - Future-proofing Irish Livestock Sustainability (SmartSward) – will be carried out by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in partnership with University College Dublin (UCD) and Massey University New Zealand.

Meanwhile, the fisheries topic - Extraction and exploitation of bioactive fish components for health enhancement - will be carried out by the Ulster University, in partnership with University College Cork, University of Limerick, and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology.

The awards are provided through the ‘Research and Development Partnership’ between Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Republic's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Cross-border research

The collaboration between the two jurisdictions identifies opportunities to co-fund research in areas of shared strategic priority.

Making the announcement, DAERA deputy chief scientific adviser Dr. Paul Devine said: “Addressing common issues with a collaborative approach has many benefits including the leverage of additional research capacity and expertise to meet the needs of the local agri-food sector.

“The department recognises that science has a vital role in providing our farmers and agri-food industry with a competitive edge in highly demanding markets.

By addressing transnational issues affecting the sustainability of the agri-food sector in NI and ROI creates many overarching benefits.

“This funding to local scientists, technologists and advisers will play an essential part in assisting NI farmers who face the challenges of increasingly competitive agri-food and forestry sectors.

"Sharing both knowledge and resources through collaboration enhances both the quality of research and the value derived from DAERA funding.”

This is the second year of the cross-border collaboration. There were eight successful collaborative projects by AFBI, Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University in the 2015 Competitive Research Call to the value of £1.9 million.

DAERA is currently on target to meet its objective of 11 new research projects contracting at least 11 new post-doctoral scientists based in Northern Ireland research organisations by December 2018.