Technology advances in agri-sector ‘revolutionary’ – IFA

The Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA) has today, Wednesday, November 20, released the results of research into the adoption, impact and attitudes of technology in the agriculture sector.

The research was conducted by market and data specialist Amárach and Skillnet Ireland. As a result if these findings the IFA has announced an IOT (Internet of Things) pilot project on soils analysis in partnership with Vodafone Ireland and IOT solutions provider Remote Signals.

Joe Healy, the IFA’s president, said the advances in technology in the agri-sector have been “revolutionary”.

Farmers and growers are the original innovators and inventors, even if they do not always realise it. In recent times, like almost every sector, the pace of change driven predominantly by technological advances has been nothing short of revolutionary.

The report, entitled ‘Digital Agriculture: Adoption and Attitudes’, was completed following consultation with over 750 individual farmers, focus groups and industry stakeholders.

Healy continued: “While many farmers are exploiting new technologies to their full advantage, barriers do exist for the sector as whole, which must be overcome. Access to broadband is one of the major barriers experienced by farmers. The speedy implementation of the National Broadband Plan is critical for rural Ireland.”

Healy stressed that access to broadband was “essential” to the development of vibrant local communities.

Farm families and rural businesses require access to a fibre broadband service that makes their lives better and lowers the cost of doing business.

Meanwhile, Paul Healy, chief executive of Skillnet Ireland, said: “We need to ensure we are at the cutting edge of digitisation if our workforce is to continue to remain competitive.

“Making use of technological advancements provides us with the opportunity to become a world-class leader in the agriculture sector, which is a particularly important sector for Ireland,” the Skillnet Ireland chief executive added.

The new pilot project on soil analysis is designed to provide a “technological solution” for farmers, and to provide a greater insight into soil on their farms.

Anne O’Leary, Vodafone Ireland CEO, commented: “We know how important it is for farmers to have immediate access to information in order to make business decisions.

Innovation in the agricultural industry is something we strongly support and we look forward to working with the IFA and our partners to make Ireland an ag-tech world leader.

IFA president Joe Healy argued that technology will lead to better economic benefits on-farm in the long run.

“I urge policymakers and the industry as a whole to take heed of this report and work together with IFA and Farm Business Skillnet to provide the policy guidance, tools and training supports needed to fulfil the sector’s aspiration and ensure a legacy for our farmers, rural communities and the country as a whole,” he concluded.