The latest findings on feed efficiency in dairy calves and soft rot in vegetables are among the key issues showcased at an event highlighting research by Northern Ireland students.

Postgraduate students funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) had the opportunity to present their research on various topics at a recent symposium event in Belfast.

DAERA’s annual Postgraduate Studentship Competition offers a three-year PhD Research Studentship aligned to DAERA priority research areas. The symposium event at the Stormont Hotel was attended by approximately 100 delegates.

Students delivered presentations on their research areas, which included:

  • Soft rot in vegetables;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Feeding efficiency in dairy calves;
  • NI milk quality;
  • Local honey bees;
  • And many others.

Speaking at the event DAERA’s permanent secretary, Denis McMahon said: “Students develop specialist knowledge, research skills and problem-solving ability, all of which are transferable to the range of careers in industry, academia and the wider public sector.”

Final year Queen’s University Belfast PhD student Robyn McKenna said: “As part of my research I collaborated with the local feed industry to assess the use of fatty acids as a safe, wholesome swine health supplement.

“The results showed an enhanced immune response to infection and a healthier gut environment.”

Awards were also presented for best research presentations and poster displays.

Paul Mayo, of the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), won the DAERA prize for best final-year presentation; Naomi Rutherford, AFBI and QUB, won the DAERA prize for best second-year poster and talk; and Gavin Grant, AFBI and QUB, won the DAERA prize for best first-year poster.

DAERA plans to open the 2019 Postgraduate Studentship Competition in December 2018. Awards are made for a three-year PhD Research Studentship aligned to DAERA Priority Research Areas, which will be published at the launch of the competition.