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New tech solutions for agriculture’s biggest challenges

Shauna Higgins of Enterprise Ireland looks at the potential benefits for UK agriculture of collaboration with innovative Irish agritech companies.

Shauna Higgins
Shauna Higgins

Farmers across the world are turning to technological solutions as they seek to meet the challenges posed by issues such as increasing demand from a rising global population, price volatility, competition for water, pressure on land use, and environmental sustainability.

 

In the UK, the development of these solutions is being supported by the government, which is investing £90 million to support the adoption of technology and innovation in the agriculture sector.

 

Irish and UK agriculture face many of the same issues and an opportunity exists to collaborate on the agritech solutions required to deal with them. Farming methods in the two countries are very similar, and solutions developed in one can quite easily be adapted to meet the needs of the other.

 

Dairying is a case in point. Herd sizes have been increasing in the UK for several years at the same time as farmers have had to contend with increasing costs and downward price pressures from customers.

 

Irish company Dairymaster has introduced artificial intelligence to the milking parlour for the first time with its breakthrough Mission Control interface. It takes complex data and turns it into actionable information for the parlour operator.

 

It has been proven to reduce milking time by between 20% and 30%, with consequent savings in electricity and water usage. It also improves animal welfare, as cows are not standing for as long.

This technology addresses the cost, environmental, productivity, and quality challenges faced by dairy farmers.

 

In the precision farming area, another Irish company AgriSpread International has launched a new automatic GPS ISOBUS section control spreading system which allows for even distribution and precise application rates of fertiliser.

 

The system ensures the uniform application of exact target amounts of fertiliser, which will result in reduced input costs, increased yields, as well as minimising crop damage and environmental impact. The potential fertiliser savings vary from 5% to 20% depending on the field size, shape and obstacles in the field.

 

Herdwatch have developed a new technology to help livestock farmers monitor the medicines administered to their animals. A barcode scanner on a phone app gathers data on all medicines given to each individual animal, ensuring no duplication or over-medication, thereby improving herd health.

 

Another Irish company, Moocall, has developed a bull collar, which can detect when cows are in heat. This complements its earlier invention, which notifies farmers by SMS when a cow is about to go into labour.

 

What these inventions have in common is that they have been developed in close collaboration with end-users by companies that have a deep understanding of modern agriculture and the problems faced by farmers.

 

This same collaborative approach can be adopted to leverage Irish agritech advances for the benefit of UK agriculture.

 

To download the whitepaper on ‘The Future of Profitable Farming’ please visit: www.irishadvantage.com/white-paper/agritech-the-future-of-profitable-farming/

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