TECHNOLOGY is an integral part of everyday life, whether at home or in the workplace, and we’re becoming increas-ingly reliant on the benefits technological change can bring.
In recent years technology within farming and agricultural has similarly come on leaps and bounds and the sector is one of many industries that is benefiting from embracing these changes.
New technologies within farming are being explored and trialled daily and software is now advanced enough to allow for everything from online field records and accounting to livestock management and the continued roll-out of robotics.
The emergence, and acceptance, of these technologies is resulting in one of the greatest step changes for the farming and agriculture sector to date.
This is particularly important within Northern Ireland, where the
agri-food industry is a central component of the local economy.
One sector that is harnessing these technological changes is dairy, which makes up 32 per cent of the gross output of NI farming.
Dale Farm is the largest UK farmer-owned dairy cooperative, employing over 1,200 people and is a leading figure within the local dairy sector.
Many of its farmer members rely heavily on new technologies and Dale Farm encourages its farmers to make use out of an innovative app developed by the business, which allows its members to use the power of technology to simplify day-to-day farming tasks.
The app was designed to connect Dale Farm’s network of farmers to allow for the easy communication of information in key areas such as milk collection, milk quality and milk payments.
Having access to this information is essential for business, helping farms to run smoothly and efficiently.
One Dale Farm dairy farmer who is actively engaging with new tech is Peter Drummond.
Peter, who is a lifelong farmer, manages a herd of 250 cattle in Bangor, County Down, alongside his brother and father.
Peter and his family have installed robots for milking and are regular users of the Dale Farm app and an advocate of its benefits, saying it is essential to the successful running of his farm.
“By using the app daily, I can gather vital information about collection schedules and milk quality a lot quicker. I can access information such as milk price updates or review technical articles on dairy related topics which is really beneficial,” said Peter.
For Peter and his family, con-nectivity means increased prod-uctivity and without access to the latest fibre broadband, the full range of technology and software available to Peter could not be used.
He explained: “Farm life in this modern world would be extremely difficult without having access to strong and fast fibre broadband.
“For example, our robots are easily the biggest piece of technology that we have on the farm. They are continually connected to the internet to receive automatic software updates, as well as give us SOS calls or to tell us when a cow is unwell or in heat.
“Being able to control and have access to all these functions at the touch of a button on my phone makes life easier and less stressful.
“If a robot malfunctions, it calls me directly and if I am not at the farm myself, it means I can contact an engineer who will come out to the farm and fix the issue, saving us time and money. Fast internet also means I’m able to access information such as silage sample results in a short space of time, which in the past would have taken four days.
“If I’m breeding a cow and want to check the pedigree, I can do it there and then on my phone.”
“Farming for me isn’t a job, it is a way of life. With that comes a major time commitment but having access to strong fibre broadband means that I don’t have to be at the farm every minute of every day.”
He continued: “While we still have a traditional milking parlour, our robots have allowed us to automate this process and having access to the Dale Farm app helps from a time management point of view.
“This means I can increase our capacity and grow the farm outputs while also freeing up time to concentrate on other important duties such as feeding and animal welfare. Having good connectivity allows me to maximise the productive potential of my farm.”
New technologies and fibre br-oadband have transformed the farming and agriculture sector, allowing farm owners and businesses to continue their work in an entirely different, more efficient way.
Ultrafast Fibre Broadband, the next generation of high-speed internet, is set to roll out across Northern Ireland and is focused on providing opportunities to help grow businesses and make life easier.
n To check if Superfast and Ultrafast Fibre Broadband is available in your area, visit nibroadband.com