Teagasc and Microsoft have today, Saturday, April 27, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will see both organisations work together to develop agricultural-based technology that aims to advance Irish agriculture in support of rural development and innovation.

The MOU was signed this morning in Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Cavan, and attending the event was the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan.

The first initiative to be rolled out under the MOU is a pilot project, announced today, which will provide remote internet connectivity to Teagasc Agricultural College, Ballyhaise and potentially some surrounding households.

It will allow students at the college to access internet-based digital technology while training and working remotely in the fields and outbuildings across the 220ha campus.

A statement from Teagasc noted that connectivity means students can leverage a range of technologies, including AI and data analytics, to help inform decision making while learning.

The other projects identified in the MOU will be rolled out over the summer and will focus on precision agriculture, big data, and AI.

The pilot project in Ballyhaise Agricultural College is the first of its kind in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch today,Commissioner Phil Hogan, said: “From 2020 onwards I want and expect to see an upsurge in Smart Village projects where local initiative is supported by EU funding.

“Programmes such as the Rural Development Programme (RDP) or LEADER, along with partners from the private sector such as Microsoft can bring innovative solutions like Airband to the table.”

Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc director added: ”Using this technology will allow Teagasc to have high speed broadband across all our farm land in Ballyhaise.

This project will allow us to bring technology that has previously been restricted to the classroom directly to the field. An example is the measurement of grass and its optimum utilisation.

“As students are taught the skills of measuring and managing grass, this information, that’s stored on the cloud, can be captured on a handheld device in the field allowing immediate management decisions to be made on how much grass to give to animals.