Darragh McCullough with Helen Carroll and Ella McSweeney.
Stamullen farmer Darragh McCullough and his 'Ear To The Ground' team return this week with a new series, beginning tonight (Thursday) at 8.30pm on RTE 1.
Teagasc is about to harvest Ireland's first ever genetically modified crop in Co Carlow. The Irish favourite - the potato - is the first food to get the GM treatment in Ireland in a bid to prevent blight without the use of chemicals. McCullough investigates the science behind GM and also asks if producing GM products will harm or help our food production industry. He also meets reigning Bord Bia Potato Grower of the Year, Brendan O' Gorman, and Grace Maher, an advocate of organic growing, to talk about their methods of preventing blight in their crops. He gets the views of experts and, crucially, consumers, on the advent of GM to Ireland.
The triple death on a farm in Northern Ireland recently brought the issue of slurry safety into sharp focus. Slurry tanks are a fact of life on most Irish farms but they are also extremely dangerous and can kill almost instantly if the gas they release, is inhaled. Helen Carroll meets Eoin Goldrick of Aughrim, Co Galway, who is lucky to be alive, having survived slurry gas poisoning. A light breeze saved his life as it limited the poison he inhaled but he was hospitalised for two weeks and suffered severe pain and respiratory problems. Dr Edel Duggan of the Poison Information Centre outlines the impact of hydrogen sulphide on the body and Pat Griffin of the Health and Safety Authority offers invaluable advice on safely agitating slurry.
Armagh Bramley apples have attained Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. This could put Armagh cider on a par with Champagne and Roquefort cheese, for example, in terms of regionally distinctive food and drink. The current trend for craft brewing is good news for apple growers and seven craft cider makers in Armagh now use Armagh Bramley PGI branding. Greg MacNeice produces MacIvors Cider and has high hopes for the future now that the unique traits of Armagh Bramley apples have been recognised and numerous Armagh ciders won six prizes at this years' Blas na hÉireann awards. Sam Mac Neice, Greg's uncle and a grower of Armagh Bramley apples, tells Ella McSweeney how the apple yield is down by 50 per cent this year as a result of poor weather and he talks about doing business with Mr Kipling!