The statisticians in Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) have joined Twitter with the aim of publicising the release of key statistics on the DARD website.

At this stage the department’s foray onto Twitter is a pilot project to test the demand for this type of service.

In a statement this afternoon, a DARD spokesperson said: “A number of our statistical outputs such as the Market Report on cattle and sheep prices are already carried in the local farming press and this will continue to be an important outlet for our statistics, but we believe there is a growing audience that rely on social networks when keeping up to date with the latest information.

“We want to test this and have begun a pilot on Twitter under the username @DARDstats. Time will tell but we believe the use of social media offers the opportunity to bring DARD’s statistical outputs to a wider audience.”

Twitter is free to join and from DARD’s perspective this makes it a cost efficient method of publicising the release of the latest statistics, it added.