As part of Ireland’s strategy to meet its obligations under the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, the government has targeted the delivery of 12% of final heating demand from renewable sources by 2020, a target which is unlikely to be met. A public consultation period on the design and implementation of a renewable heat incentive (RHI) in Ireland was launched in late January.
Teagasc Horticulture Development Department has been facilitating impacted horticulture sub-sectors to understand how the future shape of a scheme might impact their sector.
Recent meetings and consultations with the mushroom sector and the protected crops sector have resulted in detailed submissions around the grandfathering clause, boiler sizing, energy efficiency criteria and fuel standards to be made.
The RHI in effect means that generators of renewable heat for non-domestic buildings can be paid per kWhr for hot water and heat which they generate and use themselves. The RHI
tariff will depend on which renewable heat systems are used and the scale of generation. The annual subsidy which has not been set yet is proposed to last for 15 years. As such, users may be incentivised to spend money on changing to a renewable heat source and earn enough money from the tariffs to pay off their installation over a reasonable period of time.


This year the strawberry season will start about two weeks earlier, because of the introduction of the new June-bearing strawberry cultivar ‘Clery’. Two weeks is a long time in the early strawberry market. ‘Clery’ not only boasts a high yield and long picking season but is also a very high class one fruit quality. The fruit is large and firm, which allows for much faster harvesting and greater savings on labour costs. The cultivar itself is Italian and comes from the breeding programme of CIV (Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti).



The FSAI has published new guidance to assist growers with the safe production of fresh produce (i.e. fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs etc) on farms. The guidance outlines the potential risks associated with fresh produce and provides practical advice to growers to reduce these risks and improve food safety. The guidance was developed in conjunction with growers, processors, retailers as well as representatives of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Teagasc, Bord Bia, the EPA and the IFA.The new guidance document and its accompanying simplified leaflet can be found at www.fsai.ie. Those producing fresh produce for sale must be registered as a grower with the DAFM in accordance with Article 6 of Regulation (EC) No 852 of 2004 on food hygiene.
Application forms at
Teagasc has organised a food safety seminar at its Ashtown premises on 14 March to develop an understanding of producer requirements. Horticultural producers and their staff are welcome.
More information on www.teagasc.ie/horticulture


Helen Grogan, Jim Costello, Andy Whelton and other members at the first meeting of the New Leaves project team and steering group at Teagasc Ashtown.

Teagasc researcher Helen Grogan was recently awarded funding of €0.5m by DAFM for innovative research to support the cut foliage and nursery stock sectors over four years. The project is entitled ‘New Leaves – alternative crops for the cut foliage sector’ and will identify novel foliage plant lines in response to growing demand for high-quality products from export and home markets. Various propagation technologies will be explored to produce interesting lines of Eucalyptus spp, Pittosporum, Viburnum spp, Pittosporum spp, Ozothamnus spp, and Brachyglottis spp. On completion of the project, stocks of elite ‘mother plants’ will be available for propagation under licence by cut foliage growers or specialist plant nurseries. Practical advice will be available to help growers deal responsibly with pest and disease problems that reduce their profitability.
To support this research, a contract horticultural technician post (ref CT/ASH/0217) and a post-doctoral research Fellow level 1- horticultural biotechnology post (ref PD1/ASH/0217)
are advertised on the Teagasc website at www.teagasc.ie/careers and www.teagasc.ie/about/opportunities/post-doctoral-opportunities.


It has come to light recently that currently no Dutch nurseries and traders are authorized by the Dutch National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) to move Castanea sativa plants into protected zones. Ireland has a protected zone for Cryphonectria parasitica which means that C. sativa plants moved into Ireland
have to comply with additional safeguard provisions including the requirement that
the nursery issuing the plant passport is authorized to do so by the NPPO.
A plant passport is an official label, and it is necessary that all producers, importers, and traders in plants and plant products covered by the plant passport system be officially registered with the NPPO. In Ireland, this is the DAFM. A guide to the plant passport system, including a list of plants subject to plant passport requirements, is on the DAFM website.


Conor Gallinagh has recently joined the horticultural team at Kildalton College as a nursery stock technician. Conor is a recent graduate of UCD where he completed an honours degree in horticulture. Conor comes with a wealth of nursery experience having worked in his family’s nursery and garden centre in Stranorlar, Co Donegal for many years. He previously worked at the National Trust’s Mount Stewart Gardens where he was employed as a plant collections officer.
Conor will be responsible for the management of the Kildalton College  wholesale nursery as well as training of students in horticultural skills in propagation, nursery management, landscape construction, and mechanisation. Conor will also be working closely with the Teagasc horticultural development department in screening potential new lines and box blight trails for the nursery stock industry. ✽


The scheme was developed in co-operation with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), which confirmed that AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank will distribute the loans, making €150m available to farmers and horticultural producers throughout Ireland at a low-cost interest rate of 2.95%. This is supported by €25m being provided by the DAFM, including €11m in EU exceptional adjustment aid. It should be maximised by the horticulture sector, particularly those sectors most affected by Brexit.

Loan features
Loans of up to a maximum of €150,000
Loan term of up to six years
Loans are unsecured
Optional interest only repayments available at the start of the loan
Interest rate of 2.95% for the term of the loan

Loans can be used for
Working capital requirements
A more sustainable alternative to short-term credit facilities
An alternative to merchant credit