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Local farmers keen to embrace digital technology

November 15th, 2015 10:05 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Darren Lynch (left), Drimoleague, and Peadar O'Driscoll, Church Cross, Skibbereen, who attended the Farming 2030 segment of National Digital Week . (Photo: Emma Jervis)

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JUDGING by the large attendance at ‘Farming 2030’ as part of National Digital Week in Skibbereen last week, it was clear that farmers from the West Cork area and those working in the agricultural sector are keen to embrace technology in this sector and are taking it seriously. 

Organised by [email protected], Ireland’s first digital hub, ‘Farming 2030’ looked at what is in store for the future of Irish Agriculture and attendees were well impressed by the standard of speakers and the themes that were discussed.

‘Farming 2030’ took place in the old Southern Star print room last Wednesday and was split into two sessions.

The morning session was entitled ‘Exploring Farming Techniques’ and attendees were addressed by several keynote speakers as well as chairman of the panel, Nuffield Scholar Tommy Moyles who is from Clonakilty. Stephen Howell, academic engagement manager for Microsoft Ireland, discussed the principles of cloud technology and showed how to take a temperature through digital reading and emphasised how farming can use modern technology for different tasks. Stephen also showed the audience a YouTube video where a sensor was attached to a cow’s leg and it showed how it monitored the movements of the cow.

Following his talk, Skibb native Bernie O’Brien, a senior research officer (animal and grassland) with Teagasc, spoke about robotic milking and how milking can be advanced and she also spoke about other hi tech innovations like virtual fencing.

Drinagh Co-op also gave an interesting presentation on their innovative website with Tim Regan and Caroline Buttimer giving attendees an insight into how they, as a co-operative, are embracing technology. 

Following their presentation Brian Cahill, programme manager, Mallow Systems Innovation Centre, Nimbus, gave a presentation about how they as a centre can support new ideas. He told attendees that people planning to start new companies could bounce their ideas off them, which can save them a lot of hassle in the long run.

The afternoon session was chaired by John O’Brien from Barryroe Co-op and was entitled ‘Simplifying Animal Health with Technology.’ Mr O’Brien complimented The Southern Star on its farming coverage and for inaugurating the West Cork Farming Awards in conjunction with the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery. 

Conor Beirne, a senior vet from Dairymaster, who are based in Kerry, explained the technology that they are using in their milking parlour systems and he highlighted a new sensor collar that goes around a cow’s neck and how information can be retrieved from each cow.

Fabien Peyaud, co-founder of the award-winning Herdwatch farming app, explained the foundations behind the app and how it helps keep a record of any animal’s treatment. 

The afternoon session then finished with a presentation by Sean Coughlan, CEO of the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), who spoke about saving more information on breeding stock. 

He told the audience that from 2017 tags will be purpose built for DNA testing, which is a step forward as at the moment its only Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) that can be tested. He also spoke about how over time breeders and farmers will be able to breed a healthier and more efficient animal.

It was clear that people attending ‘Farming 2030’ certainly got different things from different speakers and it was indeed a success for both the organisers and those working in the agri and food sector.

‘The challenge was to open people’s minds and, at the end of the day, it’s jobs for Skibbereen and West Cork and keeping up with technology will make this happen and the attendance showed that people are taking it seriously,’ said a member of the team behind the event.

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