The US State Department has announced that it has started a partnership with research institutions in Ireland and Northern Ireland in the agriculture sector.

The new pilot scheme is part of the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, a cross-border economic development programme launched in 2006 to connect research centres in the three countries.

The new agriculture research scheme was agreed at a meeting in Ireland on 17 November and will focus on connecting farmers to new technologies and research.

According to the US State Department, the pilot scheme will focus on "plant-associated microorganisms and plant-microbe interactions; plant-associated insects and nematodes; animal nutrition, reproduction and lactation; and animal health and disease".

The US-Ireland R&D Partnership also announced two new projects connecting universities in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US.

The first focuses on "continuous manufacturing for nano-based drug products" and involves the University of Limerick, Queen's University Belfast and Rutgers University and Purdue University in the US.

The second project, entitled "Agile Cloud Service Delivery using Integrated Photonics Networking" involves Dublin City University, Ulster University and the University of Arizona.

According to the US State Department, since its launch in 2006, the US-Ireland R&D Partnership has leveraged nearly $50 million in total research investment resulting in 27 projects in six priority areas.