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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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New organic agriculture and agri-systems engineering degree programmes

South East Technological University (SETU) has expanded its offering of agricultural courses with four new degree programmes in organic agriculture and agri-systems engineering.

Prospective students interested in forging a career in the agri-food industry can apply for a level 8 BSc (Hons) and level 7 BSc in Organic Agriculture and a level 8 BEng (Hons) and level 7 BEng in Agri-Systems Engineering when the CAO opens in November.

The addition of the undergraduate courses further bolsters a “well-established” course portfolio, bringing the total number of land and food science programmes to 14 across the Wexford, Waterford and Carlow campuses.

SETU launched the programmes at the National Ploughing Championships earlier today (Wednesday, September 21st, 2022).

Organic agriculture degree

Firstly, SETU said the BSc in Organic Agriculture would complement the existing BSc in Sustainable Farm Management and Agribusiness programmes with which it shares the scientific and business modules.

It will be one of four agri/marine programmes SETU offers on the Wexford campus, complementing the various land, marine and food science-related programmes offered across the SETU.

It developed the organic agriculture course in “close” consultation with industry, including the Irish Organic Association, whose expertise was drawn on in developing the organic modules on the programme.

Dr Stephen Whelan, programme director, said that the new organic agriculture programmes give students a “unique” opportunity to make a “big” impact on the organic industry.

He understands that the BSc in Organic Agriculture is the “only such degree” being offered on the island of Ireland.

“We believe the honours version of the course is the only Level 8 degree in organic agriculture offered in either the UK or Ireland.”

Dr Whelan continued: “The agri-team in the Wexford campus are thankful to all those in the industry who contributed to the development of the programme, especially Grace Maher from the Irish Organic Association, who was heavily involved from the start.”

Agri-systems engineering

Moreover, it also developed the BEng in Agricultural Systems Engineering by “working closely” with the industry.

Dr John Carroll, co-director of the programme together with Dr Anthony Nolan, said that its vision for this programme is that it will create “talented problem solvers” for the agricultural industry, which is becoming “increasingly mechanised and technical”.

He added that students on this programme will be able to take advantage of the best offerings in the Wexford and the Carlow campuses of SETU, capitalising on the agricultural expertise in the former and the engineering expertise in the latter.

The BEng in Agricultural Systems Engineering programmes will share several agri-business and applied agriculture modules with the parent programme, the BSc in Sustainable Farm Management and Agribusiness.

Students will take the engineering components of the programme in Carlow as well as learn from exposure to the many agri-engineering companies in the south-east.

SETU will offer both the BSc in Organic Agriculture and the BEng in Agricultural Systems Engineering at Level 7 and Level 8.

Both will have their first intake of students in September 2023.

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