Friday 30 September 2016

How tech is changing Irish farmlife

Published 20/04/2016 | 10:08

On this week’s Ready Business podcast, we find out how developments in technology have affected and improved farming life in Ireland. 

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INM’s Deputy Farming Editor, Darragh McCullough, took us through the revolutionary changes that have been occurring , and we speak to one remarkable entrepreneur and innovator – Ed Harty of Dairymaster - whose ideas and inventions are changing farmers’ lives not just in Ireland but all around the world.

“Technology affects all our lives and farmers aren’t immune,” explains McCullough.  “After all, farmers were one of the first adopters of mobile phone technology.  Farmers neds to be mobile and need technology to help them.  They’re becoming more professionalised, margins are becoming thinner and technology can give them an edge to help with that.”

In terms of the tech that is helping them, he cites the example of the tractors that have auto-steering capabilities to drive themselves around the fields using GPS technology within a couple of millimetres around the field, although, ‘the farmer still needs to be examining and assessing the crop so it’s not completely automated’ adds McCullough. 

Ready Business Presenter Brian Purcell with guests from left, Edmond Harty CEO Dairymaster and Darragh Mc Cullough INM Deputy Editor Farming.
Ready Business Presenter Brian Purcell with guests from left, Edmond Harty CEO Dairymaster and Darragh Mc Cullough INM Deputy Editor Farming.

For Ed Harty, who has been called the ‘Steve Jobs of Irish agriculture’, his company, Dairymaster, is a world leader in dairy tech products from milking to milk cooling and animal health and fertility.

“On a farm, the animals are the most valuable asset,” says Harty.  “Cows have to be bred at the right time and technology can help solve all those problems.  Our devices can take 3 million readings from a cow every day - similar to wearable devices that humans use.”

All the more remarkable is the fact that Dairymaster does all its global R&D and manufacturing from its premises outside a small village in north Kerry.

“Dairymaster has a lot of different skills from R&D to manufacturing,” he adds. “And it allows us more control and to do things better.  I always say it’s like baking a cake – we’re bringing together different ingredients  to offer better products to our customers.

“Based in Causeway, north Kerry, we play to our advantages.  It’s a great environment and when you build an interesting place to work that’s a big help.”

Each week on the Ready Business podcast we’re answering your start-up and SME questions giving practical advice on how best to run your business and on this week’s Twitter poll, we asked about awareness and knowledge in farming apps in general.

72% of respondents said they hadn’t heard of some of the main farming apps which leads to the question as to just how much Irish farmers are embracing new technologies?

“The younger generation are using apps,” says Harty.  “And among the farming community smartphone usage and take-up is high right across the board.  We have 600 farms directly connected to our smartphone monitoring milk systems so that’s a sizeable amount of Irish farms being connected.”

We’ll be running our Twitter poll every Friday on @independent_ie using the hashtag #readybusinessadvice so don’t forget to let us know the key business issues that you would like us to address.

The Ready Business show, in association with Vodafone, is available every Thursday via iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and Independent.ie. Or subscribe to the RSS feed of the Ready Business Podcast using your favourite podcatcher.

You can check out the full Ready Business Podcast series here.

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