Get Ready to be Amazed: Spectacular Agri Projects Unveiled at the 2024 BT Young Scientist Exhibition

"BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition Showcases Innovative Agricultural Projects, Including Rewilding for Biodiversity Boost"

The BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) for 2024 officially opened its doors to the public today, Thursday, January 11. The event, held at the RDS in Dublin, showcased over 50 agricultural and biodiversity projects. With over 1,100 secondary school student finalists in attendance, a total of 2,042 projects were up for competition.

One project that caught the attention of visitors focused on rewilding to increase biodiversity. Titled ‘Wilder farms – An investigation into farmers’ attitudes towards rewilding and reforestation of farmland in Ireland’, the project was carried out by students from St. Mary’s Secondary School in Macroom, Co. Cork. Students Amy McCullagh and Ella White explained that they chose the idea due to the new EU Nature Restoration Law. They found that while the majority of farmers are enthusiastic about rewilding, the grants and schemes currently available are not sufficient. They suggested that a variety of schemes should be implemented, tailored to the specific needs of different types of farms.

Another project at the exhibition addressed the issue of sheep attacks by dogs. Last year, over 250 incidents involving dogs worrying livestock were reported to local authorities. To combat this problem, students Domhnall Molloy, Terry Heffernan, and Kerry Sun from Moate Community School in Co. Westmeath showcased a dog warning device. The device, which can be used per flock of sheep, is equipped with software that detects distress in the animals and sends an alert to farmers via text message. The students plan to sell the product to farmers following the exhibition.

A third agricultural project on display was an automatic covered feeding trough that prevents food wastage and monitors animal weight gains. Students Matthew McVeigh, Joseph Clarke, and Killian McNeills from St. Ciaran’s College in Co. Tyrone conducted a survey to gather feedback for the product. The survey revealed that over 59% of farmers believe they are not getting the best return on the money they spend on meal, and over 70% do not have a method of protecting meal in troughs. The device, equipped with an RFID tag reader, opens the trough when an EID tag approaches, weighs the meal, and sends the data to a central location for easy access.

In addition to these projects, another study focused on the visibility, equality, status, and experiences of women in agriculture. Sophie O’Shea and Martha McDonald from Coláiste Fionnchua in Co. Cork sent out surveys to farmers, asking if they believed women were treated differently in agriculture. The results showed that 66.7% of male respondents and 81.8% of female respondents believed that women are treated differently. The study concluded that women are still largely treated differently in agriculture, and that the gender divide is still prominent. The study also noted that while both genders are aware of this divide, many are not taking action to effect change.

The BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition continues tomorrow, Friday, January 12, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A panel of 85 experts will judge the projects and select over 200 prize winners, including the overall BT Young Scientist and Technologist(s) of the Year, who will receive a prize of €7,500. The projects cover a diverse range of scientific categories, such as living things, environmental awareness and care, energy forces, and the composition of materials. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.

Additional reporting by Maeve Hennessy.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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