Have Irish farmers used technology to improve their businesses without realising?

The use of genomics has allowed for a 50% improvement in genetic gain in cattle breeding on Irish farms, Teagasc’s Frank O’Meara has said.

According to the Teagasc Director of Research, there are some technologies that are relatively easy to take advantage of and one of these is the use of genomically tested bulls.

“Without farmers having do anything, over 60% of Irish dairy farmers are using genomic selection and they didn’t have to learn a thing about genomic selection.

All they had to do was just pick a bull

Speaking at the Agricultural Science Association’s annual conference in Kilkenny, O’Meara also said the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme is a potential technology that could have a major impact on Irish farms.

Under the scheme, O’Meara said that over one million beef cattle will be genotyped on an annual basis, making it one of the largest genetic testing programmes in the world.

He also said that Ireland is in a unique position in terms of cattle tractability as every animal in Ireland can be identified.

“Not every country in the world has that level of traceability,” he said.

A push towards easier recording systems

O’Meara also said that the younger generation of Irish farmers will continue to push and use new technologies on their farms.

In recent years Teagasc has trained thousands of young farmers, but he added that technologies to improve their businesses need to be provided to these farmers.

One example he gave was the development of technology to take the paper and pen out of grass measuring and make it is as easy an interactive as possible for farmers to do so using their phones.

O’Meara also said that the use of technology is important for the future of the Irish agri-food industry.

No business stands still. If a business stands still it is going backwards. If you aren’t making improvements in what we do we would fall behind out competitors.