A sensor-based kit for diagnosing an illness that is the number one cause of death in calves is being developed.

Scientists from the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Queen's University Belfast and the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States are involved.

The €900,000 Agri-Sense partnership will see the team develop a kit that will simultaneously test for the four primary viral agents responsible for causing Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD).

It is hoped the new sensors will facilitate field-side testing for the first time.

Results will be known in as little as 15 minutes, reducing diagnosis time by up to four weeks.

BRD is responsible for a third of deaths of calves under one year, and costs Irish farmers millions of euro each year.

It also costs the agri-food industry a large amount in lost revenue.

The project will use nano and sensor technology developed at Tyndall to provide a low-cost, extremely precise and quick method of testing, using disposable plastic testers.