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Research Call

DAFM Reference


DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2011 11 SF 308 Teagasc (UCD, UCC) € 800,696

Project Title:

Strategies for controlling cadmium contamination in Irish food production

Project Coordinator:

Dr. Denis Griffin

Project Abstract

Recent mandatory testing has shown a proportion of Irish horticultural produce and bovine kidneys to be above European maximum levels (MLs) for cadmium (Cd). Cd is a heavy metal and environmental contaminant which is found naturally in soils and at high levels in north Leinster where much of the horticultural industry is based. Proposals by the European Commission to reduce MLs in potatoes and vegetables (from 0.1 to 0.075 mg/kg), and in bovine kidneys, creates an urgent need for research. This project provides research to mitigate threats to the Irish horticultural and beef production industries from Cd contamination and will build a national expertise. Significant gaps in understanding the processes involved will be addressed by fundamental work on how soil chemistry influences Cd uptake in plants and animals and the feasibility of using organic amendments to immobilize Cd in soil. The genetics and physiology of Cd accumulation in plants will be investigated in tandem with identifying suitable low Cd accumulating crop varieties. Focused field surveys of animals and plants in the worst-affected region of the country will quantify the problem and highlight causal soil factors. As part of an overall strategy to support the industry, it will be necessary to provide guidance on Cd reduction strategies and on selection of land for planting and grazing. The quantitative outcomes from the research above will be used to build a risk assessment model and decision tree, based on soil tests that will allow farmers to assess and avoid risk of Cd accumulation.

Final Report:

Not available yet.