IT Sligo Team at the National Ploughing Championships

IT Sligo Team at the National Ploughing Championships

Renewable Engine PhD Researcher, Sean O’Connor, and R&I Co-ordinator, Dr Ehiaze Ehimen, of IT Sligo were in attendance at the National Ploughing Championships held in Fenagh, County Carlow.  The event, now in its 88th year, saw over 250,000 visitors over the three-day duration making it Europe’s largest outdoor festival of any kind.  IT Sligo’s participation was part of a wider study to access the agricultural and farming community directly to evaluate the current knowledge, state of practice and potential uptake of on-farm small-scale anaerobic digestion (SSAD) plants in Ireland.

Sean’s research focuses on SSAD systems, which is a promising technology for the treatment of farm and livestock waste, as it can transform organic matter into biogas (which contains energy rich methane).  These systems are beneficial for improving on-site energy generation, upgrading wastes and providing a nutrient-rich fertiliser from the digester effluents, while reducing pathogenic loads, odours and greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the agricultural processes.  Small-scale farming processes can further exploit the portable and flexible options made available by implementing SSAD systems, to effect on demand conversion of organic waste streams to useful heat (and potentially electricity), with significant economic benefits accruable (especially when such energy carriers are exported).

The participation in the ploughing championship afforded Sean and Ehiaze the chance to engage and get feedback from farmers and agricultural/bio-based organisations around the country, on their perception on renewable energy generation and integration in their operations.  The project used surveys and one-on-one interactions with the targeted stakeholders to get this information.  Sean’s ongoing PhD project, in collaboration with Organic Power Ireland Ltd, involves activities to design, test and optimise a robust, modular, small-scale unit (20kW) for the Irish agriculture sector.

The project is still open to responses from the agricultural and farming community, so it will be appreciated if any interested stakeholder can complete the survey which is now available online at:

The survey should only take 5 minutes.

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The project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), with match funding provided by the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Republic of Ireland).
Interreg - Northern Ireland - Ireland - Scotland - European Regional Development Fund