The relevance of AgTech in meeting climate targets within agriculture has been highlighted by chairman of AgTech Ireland and CEO of Terra NutriTECH, Padraig Hennessy.

He was speaking on the latest Farmland progranme, produced by Agriland Media Group where is said: “A hundred years ago, a very simple thrashing machine would have been AgTech.

“Some people think that’s it’s using artificial intelligence or it’s using edge computing, but AgTech, in my mind, is any technology at all that actually helps a farmer, on-farm.

That’s the way I want people to start thinking of it – as any technology at all that can actually help a farmer produce, reduce labour or simplify processes on farm.

AgTech and climate action

AgTech Ireland chair, Padraig Hennessy

Hennessy pointed out that AgTech is becoming more important in terms of the agriculture sector meeting its climate targets.

“Farmers can’t work any harder. Farmers are already working right to the limit of what they can do,” he explained.

“Farming is going to change hugely over the next number of years. There’s the change in consumer preferences; there is the sustainability and climate agenda now that is really going to come to the fore in the next 10 years.

“It’s going to be with the use of technologies that a lot of… the problems will be solved,” he added.

Hennessy added that farmer cooperation is central to the application of AgTech across the agricultural sector.

Benefits of AgTech

The Terra NutriTECH CEO explained that profitability is one element driving research and development within AgTech currently, however he said another important factor driving AgTech is the shortage of labour.

“Getting labour on-farm now is becoming more and more of a problem each year,” he said.

“Any ways of cutting down labour on the farm is seen as a benefit to the farmer.

“Then as well, you have traceability and ease of workload. You have new farmers entering into the profession now, and the expectation now coming inside of the kitchen door is they should be around a bit more, helping with children.

“They need ways to make their work life easier and that’s another big driver of AgTech at the moment,” he added.

Is it worth it?

While the merits of AgTech may be many, Hennessy admits that any investment on-farm needs to be carefully considered by each farm on a case-by case basis.

“Any investment on-farm, you need to look at the ROI [return on investment]. If there isn’t an ROI for investment on-farm, it doesn’t make sense in my opinion,” Hennessy said.

“The metrics might be cutting down labour; it might be specific animal health issues; it might be production issues; whatever it is, there has to be an ROI.

“Even in a year where cashflow is under strain, if there is a good enough return on investment on any technology, then it’s always worth considering,” Hennessy said.

To watch the full interview with Padraig Hennessy on Farmland, click the video below.