Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Drones, GPS and smartphone apps - the brave new world of farming

Herdwatch mobile app.
Herdwatch mobile app.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

There are major changes afoot in the way farmers use technology with apps, GPS trackers for precision farming, drones and farm management software on the rise.

The notion that farmers are reluctant to embrace new time-saving technologies on their farms is a misconception according to one of the creators behind an app being used on Irish farmyards.

"Farmers will always respond if you can remove the red tape for them," said Fabien Peyaud, the co-founder of the Herdwatch mobile app.

"I always thought there is a misconception out there around farmers and technology. The reason they weren't using technology is the technology that suited them wasn't available."

Mr Peyaud said they have noticed a massive increase in interest among farmers in technology. Over 3,200 farmers now use Herdwatch with over 2,000 farmers signing up to the app in the last five months.

The app is designed to allow farmers to cut paperwork by allowing farmers record calf births or use of animal remedies on the move in farmyards.

Herdwatch has been used to register 100,000 calves since January 1 - over five times the level of usage last year.

"We are seeing farmers coming to us that would have been sceptical about technology but they are now asking questions about what it can do and they are driving it on themselves," he said.

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A new sprayer element for the app is coming online in the next few days and this will allow farmers update their records in line with the new regulations.

"The last thing farmers want is to have to go to 10 different pieces of software to do their job.

"A farmer wants a central hub - a tech hub for their enterprise. We would be hoping we can build that hub for them, encompassing all types of technology from the quality side, such as milk quality and tracking animals on the farm.

"I think the industry needs to engage with each other and come up with products that will connect."

He said the app would entice "people on to the ladder" and they could potentially expand it in the future to interact with technology from the likes of Dairymaster or Keenans on the feed side.

Mr Peyaud pointed out that 94pc of farmers in New Zealand are using computerised herd management software, while in Ireland just a fraction are utilising it. "There is a lot of margin there for progression," he said.

Indo Farming