Winning BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition agri-food projects

Winning BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition agri-food projects

Students Abbey Hehir, Rebecca Murphy and Ryely Cantrell from Co Clare were the overall winners of the ABP Farm Safety Award at the 2020 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) with their innovative Slurry Pit Saver project.

The students from St John Bosco Community College in Kildysart impressed the judges with their design to prevent accidental deaths in slurry pits on Irish farms.

The device in question is powered by solar energy and uses infrared sensors that detect if a large object has entered the slurry pit.

The device then sends an alert to a list of mobile phones via an app.

Farm safety is a priority for ABP. In 2019, 18 people in the farming sector were killed in work-related accidents, according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), accounting for approximately 40% of all Irish workplace related deaths that year.

For the sixth consecutive year, ABP Food Group has sponsored the BTYSTE Farm Safety category.

ABP Ireland Managing Director Martin Kane said: “ABP would like to congratulate Abbey Hehir, Rebecca Murphy and Ryely Cantrell on their successful award submission.

The Teagasc special award for the BTYSTE project that best demonstrates a thorough understanding of agricultural or food production science went to three fifth year students at Millstreet Community School in Co Cork.

The ‘Herbal Leys – Milk Production for the Future’ project of Bevin Murphy, Darren Kiely and Omar Daly investigated if agriculture can be profitable and sustainable for the future.

A herbal ley is a complex seed mixture of grasses, legumes and herbs, which bring a range of benefits to forage, livestock health and soil fertility.

The students’ analysis on four dairy farms indicated similar levels of milk production could be achieved with herbal leys or conventional perennial ryegrass grazing. But the average butterfat percentage was higher on the herbal ley system.

The students also found a noticeable presence of wildlife on the herbal ley farms, particularly butterflies and bees, which are attracted to the plants.

“We believe that herbal leys are the future of farming in Ireland. This subject is close to our hearts as two of our group members are from farming backgrounds and would like to make a career in farming”, said Bevin Murphy.

Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan of Coláiste Choilm, Cork, were the overall BTYSTE winners with their statistical investigation into the prevalence of gender stereotyping in 5-7 year olds and the development of an initiative to combat gender bias.

Other winning agri-food related projects were:

Fionn O’Hanlon of Boherbue Comprehensive School, Co Cork won a Rev Dr Tom Burke Bursary for an Investigation Into How Habitat Influences Barn Owl Breeding Success and Prey Availability.

The Best Project in Irish looked at timber availability for hurley-making, presented by Cormac Breathnach of Coláiste Ailigh, Donegal.

Another prizewinner was the Investigation into the Components of Sitka spruce sap and its Antibacterial Properties, by Jennifer Bura and Alana Foy-Nicolleau of Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan.

Sarah McNamara of Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare won for her project on Using Earthworms as an Indicator of Soil Health in North Clare.

David Rasmussen and Sean O’Regan of Coláiste An Spioraid Naoimh, Cork, won for a project on the use of heat produced by decaying plant materials and microorganisms to increase the rate of germination in plant life.

Abigail O’Brien Murray, Erica O’Brien Murray, Olivia O’Shea of Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan won for investigating if Chitosan Can Prevent or Reduce Fungal Growth in a Herb Garden.

Hannah Walsh and Johannah Pigott of Colaiste Treasa, Co Cork won for “Banking on the willow: An investigation on the effectiveness of willow in promoting riverbank biodiversity.”

Highly Commended projects included:

The investigation by Fionan Donohoe, Jesse Marsden, St. Mogue’s College, Cavan, into the impact of various manures on the power output of microbial fuel cells.

Discovery of new and more efficient forms of Urea and Phosphate to be used as fertilisers, the project of Jennifer Weston, Zoé Ellingstad, Lauren Cahill, of Coláiste Mhuire, Ennis.

A statistical analysis of balancing a carbon footprint, through redirecting the carbon tax toward tree growth, and incentivising the diversification of high carbon output farming, the project of Hannah Morrissey, Coláiste Na Toirbhirte, Co Cork.

Could Hemp be the key to a Sustainable Future?, the project of Eabha Sheehan, Taragh Casey, Fia Hurley, of Millstreet Community School, Co Cork.

An investigation into antimicrobials in fermented foods, the project of Ciara Elliott, Emma Daly, Presentation Secondary School, Cork.

An investigation into the fat quality in chilled milk before pasteurisation and how long it stays suitable for human consumption, the project of Orlaith Twomey, Jennifer Kelleher, Millstreet Community School, Co Cork.

Investigating alternatives for foetal bovine serum in cultured meat practice, the project of Paddy O’Halloran, Jack O’Donovan, John Mullan, Ardscoil Uí Urmoltaigh, Co Cork.

An Investigation into the Use of a Colloidal Clay Suspension as an Organic Post Emergence Herbicide, the project of Cian M Downey, James O’Brien, Clonakilty Community College, Co Cork.

Toxicological investigation of pesticides, using paramecium as a model organism, the project of Giulia Baratta, St Andrew’s College, Dublin.

Investigating the antimicrobial effects of herbal plant and vegetable extracts against a plant pathogen, the project of June Polgolla, Loreto High School, Dublin.

Decline in rural Ireland and its effect on people’s well being, the project of Molly Prior, Ballinamore Community School, Leitrim.

An investigation into the effect of soil vibrations on soil biodiversity, the project of Daragh O’Beirne, Emmett Regan, Iarlaith O Brien, Carrick-On-Shannon Community School, Leitrim.

To Investigate the Effect of Spreading Slurry on Earthworms, the project of Adrian Tuffy, Ultan Tuffy, St Muredachs College, Co Mayo.

Food Eco Rating, the project of Aine Rooney, Katie Sheridan, Grainne Nevin, Eureka Secondary School, Co Meath.

There were display awards for:

Investigating the viability of two methane reducing Lactic Acid Bacteria strains in a mini silo trial, the project of Clodagh Hogan, Sarah Jordan, Colaiste Treasa, Co Cork.

An Analysis of the Carbon Footprint of a 30 Month Old Beef Animal Versus a 36 Month Old Beef Animal, the project of Darragh Halpin, Andrew Leonard, St Joseph’s Secondary School, Dublin.

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