Devenish signs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UCD

20th October 2016

Devenish signs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UCD

The UCD School of Archaeology and Devenish-Beyond Nutrition formalise a novel partnership combining archaeology and technology.

Devenish Nutrition Ltd. headquartered in Belfast and specialising in developing and offering innovative nutritional solutions and technical expertise for the livestock industry and for human health, has formalised another important research partnership with UCD, via the School of Archaeology.

The Lands at Dowth, located in Co. Meath, lie in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne, and represent a very unique landscape. Over the past four years, these lands have been the focus of significant innovative research, survey and excavation work by the UCD School of Archaeology and collaborators (in particular the Romano-Germanic Commission), funded by Devenish, the Royal Irish Academy, and the National Monuments Service. Devenish has worked closely with the UCD School of Archaeology and Dr. Steve Davis, who leads the School's research programme at the Lands at Dowth. The extensive remote sensing programme coordinated by Dr. Davis has given an insight into the prehistoric and medieval landscape of the Lands at Dowth by identifying many new archaeological sites, adding to the eight monuments (including passage tombs, a huge henge, and megalithic art) that were already known to be present on the Lands at Dowth.

This landscape, which inspired Ireland's first farmers to build the extraordinary monuments of this area, continues to inspire Devenish today, as its researchers lead studies on human and animal health, soil and plant health, water quality and climate change, in order to develop sustainable operating models for the future of farming, food and consumer health.

Most interestingly, the archaeological and agri-technological research have cross-fertilised several times at these lands. For example, an imaging technology called LiDAR was used to survey the surface of the land for archaeological purposes. Subsequently, the same data set was used, in partnership with Teagasc, to accurately quantify the amount of carbon sequestered by growth in the woods and hedges each year, offsetting some of the greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. This whole-farm calculation is a world first and paves the way for more effective policies to fight climate change.

GPS soil sampling was carried out to monitor and manage fertility on the farm, providing a map showing the areas of phosphate concentration. UCD's archaeologists pointed out that the elevated levels of phosphate indicated ancient human settlement and they were able to use the phosphate map to locate two medieval enclosures.

Devenish and UCD have previously collaborated in delivering the new dairy research and education facility at UCD's Lyons Research Farm, which supports cutting edge research programmes in dairy production.

Following the signing of the MoU, Dr. Owen Brennan, Chairman of Devenish said "We are really pleased to formalise this significant and novel research partnership between Devenish and UCD. Scientific research underpins all our work in Devenish-from soil, right through to society. Perhaps the 6,000 years of farming that is etched into the Lands at Dowth landscape is an implicit reminder that these are the timescales we need to envisage when we are developing solutions for the future of farming and human health. The emerging approach on these lands is perhaps best captured by the President of EAAP (Europe’s largest conference on animal production), Philippe Chemineau, on a recent visit to Dowth, when he said 'You are looking to understand the past, so that you can innovate for the future. I have never seen this being done before, it is very exciting and impressive.'"

Professor Andrew Deeks, President of UCD, said "The partnership between Devenish and UCD Archaeology is of direct benefit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne, as it not only acknowledges the importance of preserving this internationally important landscape here in Meath, but seeks to discover more about our ancient past and literally bring to the surface new knowledge regarding our ancestors and how they lived."

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