John Geraghty has over twenty five years research, development and consulting experience in soil management, crop production systems and rural enterprise. He holds both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Agricultural Science from the National University of Ireland, specializing in crop production and rural development respectively.
Sponsored by the Irish Agency for Personal Service Overseas(APSO) he worked with the German Technical Co-operation Agency(GTZ) on a bilateral development project with the Plant Protection Service in Benin, western Africa between 1995 and 1996. New cultural and biological control measures were researched and promoted to improve production and storage techniques for staple crops. Support systems were also developed, implemented and monitored for the supply, distribution and sustainable use of pesticides.
On returning to Ireland he worked in research and development conducting field trials on the performance of plant protection products for weed and disease control in cereal crops. Many of these products are being used commercially in crop production systems throughout Europe today. He was actively involved in conducting field assessments on new technologies in agriculture including research on the field performance of genetically enhanced crops. He also managed and conducted research surveys for clients and acted as facilitator for a number of community based initiatives.
In 1998 he was selected by the Department of Agriculture for United Nations food security support duty with the World Food Programme and was appointed Emergency Operations Officer in Lesotho, southern Africa. Responsibilities there included food procurement, organizing transport, storage and safe delivery of quality food to primary schools in rural areas in collaboration with counterparts in the Government of Lesotho. Specific research, monitoring and evaluation work was conducted on nutritional needs for early childhood development. Additional and related food security support missions were undertaken in both Mozambique and South Africa. He also worked on the United Nations Panel that developed the Lesotho Country Strategy Outline plan across a broad range of projects implemented by different UN agencies in country.
After coming back to Ireland in early 2000 he began work as a private consultant promoting the adoption of conservation tillage systems in agriculture. He has been active in developing new techniques and skills at farm level using the guiding principles of Conservation Agriculture(CA) including minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and the use of crop rotations and cover crops. His work has extended to promote these systems throughout north-western Europe. In 2003 he was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and travelled throughout South America where he studied the adoption and development of no-tillage and zero-tillage systems in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico and Uruguay. He is the sole Irish representative to have participated in successive World Congresses on Conservation Agriculture in Spain, Brazil, Kenya, India, Australia and Canada. He has given briefings to public representatives on the Oireachtas Joint Committee for Agriculture in Dublin and to Members of the European Parliament(MEPs) and EU Commission Officials in Brussels on the commercial and environmental benefits of conservation agriculture.
He has been keynote speaker at conferences at home and abroad on topics related to sustainable agriculture, climate change and managing the impact of agriculture on the environment. In contrast with many in his profession, he has publicly supported many measures relating to legislative developments in agriculture, the environment, nitrates, soil protection and conservation programmes in farming. Submissions made in these areas have influenced developing agricultural policy including the inclusion of conservation measures in agri-environmental programmes. He has been consistent in his assertion that CA systems will ultimately revolutionize crop production throughout Europe, safeguarding food production while enhancing the environment.
In recent years he has become increasingly involved in course development with third level institutions such as the Waterford Institute of Technology, University College Dublin and NUI Galway, and is a visiting lecturer in agricultural policy, conservation agriculture, sustainable agri-environmental practices and climate resilient agriculture.
Currently based in Tipperary, in the south east of Ireland, he works as a private consultant on projects concerned with sustainable agriculture and rural development issues in Ireland, Europe and Overseas. He is the National Representative to the European Conservation Agriculture Federation(ECAF) and the World Association for Soil and Water Conservation(WASWAC).