Business Farming

Saturday 1 October 2016

Lack of confidence prevents farmers from going hi-tech

Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30

Herdwatch gathers personalised herd information information from the ICBF and the Department and delivers it in app form to the farmer
Herdwatch gathers personalised herd information information from the ICBF and the Department and delivers it in app form to the farmer

A lack of confidence is the main factor preventing farmers from utilising mobile technology on farms.

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Fabien Peyaud, co-founder of the Herdwatch mobile app also warned that a lack of broadband access in areas continues to hold back rural businesses and communities.

"I think it is a lack of confidence. I've said this for a good few years now that there is an urban myth about farmers not being techies," said Mr Peyaud.

"The reason farmers aren't using technology is that technology hasn't been suitable for them to use," he said.

"If you are fed that for years and years you end up believing that you are not capable of using that technology and that is not true. It is a self confidence thing."

Mr Peyaud said that if a person can send a text message then they can get to grips with an app and a phone is the one thing they'll have in their pockets at all times.

Mr Peyaud, who was talking about technology at the Teagasc National Dairy Conference, said the number of users of the Herdwatch app - designed to cut paperwork by allowing farmers record calf births or use of animal remedies on the move - is growing by around 100 a week.

Uptake

Mr Peyaud said the uptake has been increasing steadily, after it took 14 months to get to 1,000 users.

"In the last six months we are adding 700 or 800 users. We're currently growing at about a 100 a week - it is beyond our expectations," he said, adding it costs €99 a year.

"It pays for itself within a couple of months. On average it saves four or five hours a week."

The lack of broadband was an issue raised by farmers.

"I live in Roscrea, it is a fantastic place. I love it there. We have issues with broadband in our business that are essentially I suppose causing us to look at our options," said Mr Peyaud.

"The 3G is not good enough," he said, adding they had designed the app so that it didn't need constant broadband or wifi access for it to work.

"It is stifling our growth. It is not good enough in this day and age."

Tadgh Buckley from AIB pointed out there are a lower number of farmers using mobile banking than in other SMEs. However, he feels this is partly down to mobile broadband issues.

"There was a huge transition from internet banking as we call it, which is your PC based banking, towards mobile or tablet in SMEs but we haven't seen the same in farmers," he said. "But in fairness they normally follow."

Mr Buckley pointed out online banking is a massive money saver. "It is definitely about five or six times cheaper."

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