The drinks industry in Ireland was the backdrop to an event that took place recently in Enniscorthy focussing attention on the Irish malting barley sector.
The conference, which was held in the Riverside Park Hotel, heard that the Irish industry, in particular relating to whiskey sales, has expanded considerably over the past number of years.
The increase in demand has had a knock-on effect for the Irish malting barley sector resulting in an increase in the amount of malting barley being grown in the country.
The conference attendees heard growers here have opportunities to enter a niche market with their produce and increase farm profitability.
An annual event the conference was organised as part of the Teagasc/Boormalt joint programme which is currently in its second year.
At the conference, Kieran Kilcawley, from Teagasc Moorepark, outlined a research project he is working on examining the area of Terroir in whiskey.
Terroir is a concept based around the idea that the taste and smell of whiskey can be directly associated with where its malting barley crop was grown.
It includes factors such as soil type and location and how they can impact taste.
Mr Kilcawley's research is ongoing, however, initial results indicate there is a link between the location of the crop and its taste.
Growers who attended the event received an update on the activities of the Teagasc-Boormalt programme over the past year.
The programme advisor, Eoin Lyons. outlined the farm trials that were carried out on monitor farms over the past year.
Among the topics he discussed on the night were issues such as catch crops, aphid control and growth regulators.
The malting barley nitrogen rate for the coming season was also discussed at the conference.
The attendees were told there was a big difference between nitrogen retained in the soil this year compared to last year.
The conference head that high rainfall, large crop off-takes, and poor cover crops will all point towards a low level of nitrogen in soil this year and therefore nitrogen requirement for this year's malt crop will have to be altered in order to optimise yield and protein.
Steven Kildea, a crop researcher in Teagasc Oak Park, focussed attention on the imminent loss of chlorothalonil, next May, and how control of ramularia in spring malting barley will become increasingly difficult as a result of that.
Mr Kildea also gave an update on what alternatives are available for ramularia control when chlorothalonil goes off the market.
He also updated the attendees on trial work completed last season which showed there are alternatives to Bravo on the market but they may not be as effective.
However, he also stated that the situation in relation to ramularia control measures is much more positive compared to a year ago.
The final speaker was Tom Bryan, who is Technical Manager, with Boormalt.
He outlined some of the company's plans for 2020.
He revealed that the new malting barley facility in Athy is now complete and operational while the reconstruction of the old facility is due to be completed shortly.
Mr Bryan said that with the increase in the malting capacity in Athy the company plans to purchase a record quantity of malting barley this season and in doing so increase its total tonnage to 180,000 tonnes.