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Farming & Fisheries

Stars aligned for Kinsale’s Desmond as Moonsyst changing future farming

April 8th, 2024 12:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

Stars aligned for Kinsale’s Desmond as Moonsyst changing future farming Image
Southern Star Farming Awards April winner, Desmond Savage of Moonsyst, on the farm of Michael Hayes, Boxtown, Ballinspittle. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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The Southern Star and Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Farming Awards winner for the month of April is Desmond Savage

AROUND a decade ago Desmond Savage could see the pressure mounting on farming as climate change began to dominate conversations. But to him, it seemed ‘too easy to point the finger of blame at farming, while the demand for fossil fuels grew exponentially.’

However, with over two decades experience working with global manufacturing companies, he was exposed to the latest technologies, which ultimately led him to create ingestible ‘Fitbits’ for cows and establish the award-winning agri company, Moonsyst.

‘From my experience in manufacturing, I knew the importance of good metrics – if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,’ he said. ‘And seeing how technology was being successfully deployed in manufacturing, led me to investigate what could be done with technology to benefit our dairy and beef farms.’

His focus was on rumen bolus technology: ‘There is an empty compartment in the cow’s stomach, i.e. reticulum, where a sensor could sit and collect amazing heath, reproduction, and sustainability information. Having one bolus to one cow, meant that the data would be of the highest integrity.

‘One idea I had was to use the bolus to count eructations or ‘burps’. It seemed no one else had tried this, so with the help of a local patent attorney I set about registering this idea. My next step was to develop a smart rumen bolus. People from all around the world had worked for over 20 years trying to launch commercial smart rumen bolus solutions, but in most cases the technologies they used were not good enough.

‘However, that was changing with the onset of the ‘Internet of Things’ or IOT technologies. Better batteries, smart phones, cloud computing were all enabling IOT to be a feasible technology.

‘In 2019 a lifelong friend introduced me to a start-up company in Hungary called ‘Moonsyst’. It was obvious the stars had aligned. The team in Hungary led by Peter Gesler, had done a great job in developing a modern smart rumen bolus solution but lacked some hands-on experience at farm level. For the next couple of years Peter and I worked together and in 2022 we decided to establish a new Irish company called Agri IOT Limited, trading as ‘Moonsyst’.’

The Moonsyst solution, he explains, presents farmers with an easy-to-use cloudbased technology that monitors all facets of the individual animal in real time, while contributing to more sustainable farming practices.

‘It consists of a rumen bolus sensor and a cloud-based data processing application, with an associated mobile app. The sensor is swallowed by the animal where it sinks to the bottom of the rumen/stomach and settles in the reticulum for the duration of the animal’s life. The sensor is capable of multiple physiological and chemical data monitoring eg pH level, temperature, rumen and body activity and has a lifespan of more than six years,’ he said.

The system can alert farmers of calving, mastitis, heat and repeats, fever, abnormal water intake and other health related issues.

‘This will allow the farmer to make more efficient and effective decisions to increase their livestock’s fertility and performance, while maximising productivity and avoiding potential health problems,’ said Desmond.

Some of the potential benefits to farmers include: optimised reproduction rate, reduced labour costs, early disease/heat stress detection, higher milk yield, improving EBI, reduced cost of artificial insemination and less use of antibiotics, reducing veterinary bills.

Desmond Savage and farmer Michael Hayes.


Currently there is only one other viable smart rumen bolus company offering a solution to Irish farmers.

‘Since launching in 2022, the company has doubled its revenue year-on-year and is on track to exceed €1m for 2024. As well as over 25 farms in Ireland, Moonsyst now has a presence in over 20 countries, from Canada to Argentina, Australia to South Africa and in multiple countries across Europe. Initially Moonsyst received great support from the Cork North and West Local Enterprise Offi ce (LEO) and recently was approved as a High Potential Start-up with Enterprise Ireland,’ said Desmond.

In his opinion the current metrics on which the Irish government are basing their decisions for the agri sector, namely biogenic methane reduction and reducing the national herd, are wrong.

‘Ireland has the opportunity to be a leader in high yield sustainable farming practices which will benefit Irish farming families and the wider world, as the demand for animal proteins continues to rise.

‘More focus needs to be placed on improving animal efficiencies in dairy and meat production. By incentivising farmers to better understand the health of their herd they can optimise feed conversion rates and in turn minimise biogenic emissions and help the environment in the long term. A “quick and fast” solution is never the answer when farming the land or planning for the future, therefore a longer-term sustainable approach is key and Irish farmers are well-placed to take the lead on this. With the assistance of Moonsyst, farmers can work smarter and more sustainably benefi ting the environment and animal health. This is what the government should be focused on for the continued success of Irish farming.’

The company is set to move into a new building in Bandon later this year, which will be its HQ and there are a number of new and exciting research and development projects in the pipeline

‘Currently we have seven full-time staff members, five of which are already in Cork. With the office established we plan to hire more staff through 2024/25. The sensors are manufactured in Hungary with the all the other elements of the business, including customer support in Ireland,’ said Desmond who lives in Kinsale with his partner and five-year-old son.

Winning The Southern Star’s April farming award means a lot, he said.

‘Getting recognition from those closest to you, is often the most difficult. The Southern Star is the paper of record for many in West Cork and we honoured to receive this award and looking forward to doing our community proud in the coming years.’

Why we love West Cork farming

Dr Katy Wareing, Ludgate.


NESTLED in the heart of West Cork, Ludgate stands as a beacon of innovation, propelling the region’s agricultural landscape into the future. At Ludgate, we recognise the pivotal role of agriculture in West Cork’s identity and economy. As such, we are proud to nurture the burgeoning field of agritech, supporting initiatives that blend cutting-edge technology with traditional farming practices to drive efficiency and sustainability.

‘Our commitment to Agritech is not just a proclamation; it’s a tangible investment in the future of farming,’ said Ludgate director of strategy and innovation Dr Katy Wareing.

‘By sponsoring a category in the esteemed West Cork Farming Awards for the second consecutive year, Ludgate reaffirms its dedication to celebrating excellence within the local agricultural community. These awards not only recognize the hard work and dedication of West Cork farmers but also serve as a platform to showcase innovative practices that are shaping the future of agriculture.’

Through our support of the West Cork Farming Awards, Ludgate aims to amplify the voices of farmers who are pioneering change in the industry. From sustainable farming methods to advancements in precision agriculture, these awards spotlight the diverse and dynamic approaches that are driving progress in West Cork’s agricultural sector.

Moreover, Ludgate serves as a hub for collaboration and knowledge exchange, bringing together entrepreneurs, and experts in Agritech to foster innovation and drive positive change.

As we look towards the 2024 West Cork Farming Awards, Ludgate stands firm in its commitment to championing Agritech and celebrating the tireless efforts of West Cork farmers. Together, we are shaping a brighter, more sustainable future for agriculture.

This sponsorship reaffirms Ludgate’s role as a catalyst for positive change in the region’s agricultural landscape.

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