Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Irish merger creates world's biggest grass database

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle
Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The biggest grass database in the world has been formed following the merger of Teagasc's PastureBase and privately owned AgriNet.

Over 3,000 farmers across the world will be feeding weekly grass measurements into the system in a bid by the State agency to "move the initiative on to the next level".

"We were always more interested in using the data for research, but to generate it, you need to provide front-end user support to the farmer. That's where AgriNet's strengths were," said a Teagasc spokesman.

The move will ensure that Irish grassland data will be stored in a national database for the benefit of all Irish farmers, although AgriNet founder Barry Lynch insisted that his company had never any designs on commercialising the data.

"Our belief was always that the person generating the data - in this case the farmer - owned the data," he said.

It appears to be a perfect fit, with Mr Lynch admitting that his company didn't have the resources to carry out research on the huge amounts of data being generated by the software.

"About a year ago we estimated that we had seven million data entries, so obviously it is a lot higher now," he said.

"Almost half of our clients are based abroad, mostly in the UK but also in New Zealand and Chile. So if we're able to get high-end corporate entities in New Zealand to opt for our package over anything on offer down there, you get some idea of just how far ahead we are now in terms of this package."

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However, the Meathman acknowledged that grass measurement was still very much a niche activity within the global spectrum of farmers.

"There's probably no more than 6,000 farmers worldwide interested in measuring grass, and Irish farmers are way ahead of the curve in general," he added.

AgriNet, which is majority owned by the Progressive Genetics breeding co-op, started out close to 20 years ago offering farmers ways of digitally recording animal breeding, production and veterinary records.

The new PastureBase Ireland package is expected to be rolled out early next year. Teagasc boss Gerry Boyle hopes that the software will greatly aid the role out of the knowledge transfer groups and participants completing rotation planners and grass wedges.

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