Smart Farming on the Rise as Innovation Culture develops
With over 4 million hectares of land dedicated to the Agricultural Sector, innovation in Agritech is at the forefront of a revolution in farming as the sector faces new challenges.
The term ‘smart farming‘ has become commonplace throughout Ireland. Access to better sensors and technology has enabled farmers of all ages to access new and better ways to farm. With improved communications through IOT access and monitoring of this technology allows for greater transparency and better decision making.
Innovation in the farming sector has brought many improvements, reduced labor costs and requirements, improved farm safety, improved livestock and crop yields and most importantly efficiency. These innovations will be instrumental in enabling farming to become more sustainable, resulting in less waste and reduced emissions.
You can look at Terra NutriTECH as an example of a company which has aided this process. Founded by farming brothers, Padraig and Tom Hennessy they have developed technology that allows herds to receive quality mineral supplements deposited directly into their water supply. The system reduces manual handling, wastage and it is completely automated meaning less time spent on mundane tasks.
The app allows farmers to track mineral usage, water usage monitoring leaks and much more. Using technology and precision such as this allows farms more visibility on factors affecting their animals and also enables better on-farm decisions.
The Evolution of Smart Farming in Ireland:
A combination of education, pride in the agricultural sector and a willingness to try new things have all assisted the growth of Agtech on-farm in Ireland.
Over the years, Irish farming has gone through waves of change.
First, there came the advent of tractors, tillage and harvesting equipment, and milking machines, all these leading to improvements in farming in Ireland
The next major wave was the green revolution of the 1960s which introduced better-quality seeds, irrigation systems, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides along with a host of other advancements..
Now, in more recent years Ireland has been leading change in the Agricultural sector in Ireland and abroad. Smart Farming is on the rise.
These technologies are focused on the use of high-end sensors for data collection, advancement in the country’s precision agriculture, wider use of robotics and automation, and greater implementation of biotechnology and bioengineering in Ireland’s farming industry.
Automation of a large swathe of mundane tasks on Irish farms has reduced costs, increased production rates and streamlined many sectors. Farm automation has been an answer to labour shortages experienced on many Irish farms and it improves safety by minimizing human contact with machinery and livestock.
Tech for livestock farming
Irish companies have developed the technology to locate parasites on livestock, track mineral intake, track livestock movements and assist with calving and heat detection and overall health. This technology helps improve fertility reduce veterinary costs, improves livestock’s health and reduces wastage.
Technology in arable farming
Technology has helped to maximize production, in arable farming. Through the use of sensors, machine learning, GPS and precision sowing/spraying variables of crop farming input such as soil conditions, micro-climate, pest stress and moisture levels can be monitored and thus controlled for maximum yield.
Precision agriculture: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Modern farming in Ireland has also seen an increase in the use of robotics, drone technology and AI:
Here are just some examples of their application:
- Farmers can soon make use of remote sensors, satellites and UAVs to gather information of an entire field throughout the day.
- Practices such as irrigation on a farm can be monitored and controlled via smartphones.
- Ultrasounds can be used in livestock farming. Ultrasound, although useful for checking on pregnancies, can also be used for checking the quality of meat that might be found on an animal before it is turned to the market.
- The use of crop sensors on farms help in the application of fertilizers in a much more effective manner, as it maximizes uptake. Sensors study the crop and tell the applicant the number of fertilizers to be applied in real-time.
- RFID tags and collars can individually identify animals and give indicators of stress, health and heats.
Small family-built companies such as Terra NutriTECH are at the forefront of this innovation. By listening to their customers and combining this with technical know-how, they are able to deliver practical solutions to help farms deliver results. Companies such as this are exactly what Irish farmers need, those with a passion and the knowledge to improve Irish farming making it a greener, healthy and more cost-effective industry.