Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced plans to establish a ‘technology demonstration farm’ network – with the first application window now open.

The idea is for farmers who sign up to the scheme to host visits and showcase the use of innovative technologies on their farms.

It aims to encourage a greater rate of technology adoption on farms in Northern Ireland as research shows that early adopters of innovations and technology play an important role in convincing their peers to take more innovative approaches.

Initially, six dairy farmers will be appointed who enjoy welcoming other farmers onto their farm and can tell their story of how they have introduced new technologies into their business.

Farms will be selected under three themes, namely:

  • Feed efficiency;
  • Slurry management; and
  • Mobility improvement.

Within each theme, there is a list of proven technologies which should currently be used on the farm.

Two farms are being sought for each theme with appointments being made on a competitive basis. Farmers who meet the eligibility criteria and are short-listed will be assessed by a panel during a visit to their farm.

What’s in it for those who sign up?

Selected farms will be expected to host between eight and twelve visits for groups of between five and 25 farmers.

Technologists from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) will also help the farmer prepare to host visits and at each visit, a support assistant will be available to help with arrangements. All bookings will be made through CAFRE.

The farms will receive a hosting payment of £600 for each visit.

In addition, CAFRE will support the demonstration farms by analysing the performance of their technology, providing appropriate diagnostic testing and arranging, where appropriate, for specialists, to visit and speak on their farm.

Dairy farmers who are interested in becoming a Technology Demonstration Farm can find out more details about the scheme and complete the online application.

Applications close at 4:00pm on Wednesday, June 4, 2019.

This new scheme is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and is funded by DAERA and the EU.