Technology and Farming

If anyone ever doubted that technology and the development of new technologies within farming is taking place an exponential rate then one has only to cast an eye over the developments ongoing within the international agri-machinery sector to dispel such thoughts. Companies such as Claas and John Deere, to name but two, continue to invest millions in various research and development projects, in the sure knowledge that they will deliver a payback in pretty short order.

Take GPS as a case in point. The adaption of this specific technology has opened up a new world for farmers and contractors when it comes to both planning and carrying out their field operations. And, of course, better planning in itself presents a host of new opportunities when it comes to improving efficiency levels within any business.

Many local farmers have held the view that such technologies are not relevant to Ireland. But this approach is akin to King Canute trying to hold back the tide. The reality is that farming, like every other industry on this planet, has to adopt new thinking. Producers must strive to innovate or fall by the wayside.

Take robotic milking technology as a further case in point. A mere decade ago, the reliability of the technology was being widely questioned by many milk producers. Today, combinations of two and more robots feature on many dairy farms. And all of this took place at a time when milk returns were distinctly unexciting. So what might unfold, in this regard, if the much talked about ‘golden era’ for food production becomes an actual reality?

The recent National Ploughing Championships represented a shop window for all of the main machinery manufacturers and technology providers on this island. All of the companies attending had spent large sums of money to promote new management systems that would have seemed like something from a science fiction book even 10 years ago.

The reality is that farming has entered the high tech age and the drive to further imbed all of this new thinking will only but gain further momentum during the period ahead. Agriculture, will benefit accordingly. However, an additional upside to all of this will be the host of new career opportunities created for young people, who will need training of the highest order in order to maintain and update the new machinery lines and management systems that will soon become commonplace within all of the farming sectors.