The Future of Sustainable Pest Management workshop

On October 5 2018, the Plant-Animal Interactions Research Group at Trinity College Dublin hosted a one-day workshop entitled “The Future of Sustainable Pest Management.” The attendees of this workshop came from a wide variety of institutions around Ireland, including UCD, DCU, Teagasc, DAFM, and of course Trinity itself. There were three talks given in the Botany Lecture Theatre, and then a final seminar open to everyone held in the Ecology, Evolution, and the Environment Seminar Series in the Museum Building.

sustainable pesticide workshop 05.10.18

The main objectives of the workshop were:

  1. To discuss the problems and potential of current and future methods of pest control in agricultural systems.
  2. To develop new research networks and ties.
  3. To compare pest control methods and policies within Ireland and abroad.

To this end, the workshop was a resounding success! I personally learned so much from each of the talks, and felt they complemented one another perfectly. I am so grateful to the speakers and participants who took the time to come to this workshop. And I was encouraged to see participants chatting to one another about potential collaborations.


Talk Overviews:

The first speaker, Aidan Moody, started the day by discussing the careful ways in which the EU and Ireland ensure that chemicals are safe to be released to the market. He also welcomed anyone to come visit Teagasc to learn more. Mr. Moody’s talk is available here.

The second speaker, Ronan Byrne, then gave a thorough overview of the mechanisms behind the evolution of herbicide resistance in weed species, with a particular focus on herbicide resistant weeds in Ireland. Mr. Byrne’s talk is available here.

The third speaker, Brian Murphy, gave a talk on new ideas regarding fungal endophytes in plants, and how these can help to promote crop yield without using chemical applications. Dr Murphy’s talk is available here.

We then had lunch at the Trinity Dining Hall so that participants could mingle, discuss ideas, and develop new research networks.

We had an international speaker, who was also speaking in the Ecology, Evolution, and the Environment seminar series, Prof. David Mortensen. Prof. Mortensen gave the last talk of the day on the potential to influence policy on herbicide usage and change behaviour in agriculture. Prof. Mortensen’s talk is available here.

Finally, students had an opportunity to chat more to the seminar speakers at the end of the day as we met up at the Bank.

Graduate students Irene Bottero and Elena Zioga (from Jane Stout’s lab) wrote a complete summary of the workshop, which is available here.


Speaker Bios:

Aidan Moody is the Head of the Pesticides Division at the Senior Inspector Level for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, for Ireland. He gave a talk on EU policies regarding the approval of chemicals for use in agriculture, including the stringent requirements the producer must meet to release a new chemical.


Ronan Byrne is a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield, currently working with Teagasc at Oak Park, in Co. Carlow. He is a Walsh Fellow working on herbicide resistance in grass weeds here in Ireland, and specialises in molecular biology, genomics, bioinformations, and molecular evolution.–innovation/research-impact-highlights/grass-weed-control-in-irish/


Brian Murphy is a research fellow funded by Enterprise Ireland at TCD with a Masters level Special Purpose Certificate in academic practice. He has a high commendation as a registered scientist with the Science Council. He recently won the award for best new technology emerging from 3rd level with Trevor Hodkinson for e-Seed, an agritech company.


Dave Mortensen, previously head of the Ecology program at Penn State University, was named a Distinguished Professor by that university this year. He also recently received an oustanding teacher/mentor award, which is distributed exclusively by the students. He is now at the University of New Hamphsire, where he is the chair of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems. This department includes 35 faculty who work on the spectrum from sustainable food production through to human health. The thread that holds Prof. Mortensen’s work together over teh years is fundamental and applied science centered on ecosystem service provisioning and how that is influenced by the structure of the landscape.



Special Thanks:

Special thanks to everyone who made this workshop possible; Jane Stout, Matthew Saunders, Pepijn Luijckx, Siobhan McNamee, Mandy Lockhart, Olive Keegan, Suzanne Richmond, Cian White, and Sandra Kavanagh. Funding from TCD’s Visiting Professorships and Fellowships Benefaction Fund and Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (FOMN 705287).

By Laura Russo, Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow.


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