BY BRIAN MOORE
THE rise and availability of new technology within Irish farming is enabling farmers to run their businesses more efficiently, but where will this new technology led the West Cork farmer into the future? This question was among many discussed at Agri Tech 2017 at the Ludgate last week.
Highlighting just a few of the technologies available at the moment, Dr Bernadette O’Brien from Teagasc, Moorepark, discussed precision technologies to help farmers with pasture management. ‘Grass management and the health of animals on the farm must be a farmers top priority,’ Dr O’Brien said.
‘Plate meters, such as the rising plate meter device known as the Grasshopper, has an ultra-sonic sensor to accurately and precisely measure compressed grass height and also records GPS coordinates. This gives the farmer the ability to accurately pinpoint the grass growth on the farm.
‘Used in conjunction with, for example Rumi Watch or Moo Monitors, a farmer can access everything from animal health, movement and feeding directly to his or her smart phone.’
This direct connectivity to the daily running of the farm was a topic that speaker Albert Baker from Danalto feels is an important factor for the future of agriculture in Ireland. ‘We have developed an opened source network that does not reply on cellular systems,’ Albert said.
‘This system sets up monitoring sensors across the farm that provides the farmer with real-time data of everything from stock movement to soil conditions. This is the “Connected Farm” where a farmer knows exactly how his business is working and where he can make his labour more effective.’ While all this new technology, both hardware and software, is available, there are other practices and procedures at hand to help the farmer make the most of the supply chain and the sale of the product to the customer.
Dermot Curtin, head of cheese production at Carbery, outlined the use of LEAN techniques and advantages these bring to the operations at Carbery: ‘Every business can apply these principles,’ Dermot said.
‘It’s all about breaking down all the aspects of your business, enhancing what is working well and providing value while eliminating any steps that do not bring progress to the enterprise.’
To show how this process can be applied, Joe Aherne, CEO of the Leading Edge Group, outlined how LEAN can be applied to dairy farming: ‘The more efficient a farmer, the better the business,’ Joe said. ‘LEAN provides a way to cut out what is not necessarily needed to get to the end point of effective milk product.’