The Internet of Trees & Other Uses of Smart Tech in Agri

Heard about the new use of IOT – the Internet of Trees? Or perhaps, you’ve come across the use of machine learning in predicting when cows will go into labour? If so – or if you’re a new convert to the area of smart agri technology – read onto see how Ireland is gearing up to become a centre for agri-tech.

With agriculture one of our longest-standing industries across Ireland, the future looks bright for the integration of smart technology into agricultural practices. And just as tech has helped to create smarter ways of working and efficiencies across countless industries, it’s poised to do the same to this sector.

An area of interest to stakeholders across the industry, some of the nation’s brightest gathered in March to discuss the impact of Agri-Tech at the inaugural conference organised by the Farmer’s Journal.

Leading the March in Agri-Tech

Hosted by the Journal’s Peter Young, he explained the genesis of the conference: “We previously had a stand around agri-tech at the National Ploughing Championships each year, and the demand grew so much that we decided to do this conference.”

“Ireland is really well-known globally in the agriculture industry for food and beef. Now there is a chance we can become a global centre of excellence for ag tech as well. In every industry with technology, we’ve seen disruption and efficiencies created and it’s no different for agriculture. There’s a real chance now for us to use and develop technology to help farmers reduce losses and increase profitability.”

He adds: “Farmers across Ireland are using it more and more, but the big challenge is that it needs to be affordable, practical and offer real return for people.”

Applying Wearable Tech to Livestock

As with other areas of technology, some of the most interesting businesses are being set up to solve problems farmers encounter in everyday life. Take Moocall for instance. Co-founder and CEO, Emmet Savage, took to the stage to explain how the app was established to counter the problem of calves dying during labour.

Placed on a pregnant cow’s tail, the app works by using an algorithm to monitor the body rhythms of the animal and to alert the farmer once she is due to enter into labour. This simple move allows the farmer to be present at labour and reduces the risk of calving deaths.

Integrating Software into Forestry

Just as Moocall has created a new use of wearable technology to predict labour, TreeMetrics Ltd delivers software solutions to the forestry industry around the world. With a host of solutions on hand for forestry clients, Garret Mullooly revealed the first step to integrating new solutions into the sector. “Change is bloody difficult,” he explained. “To bring that change, you have to have real actionable information and partner with people.” With pilots once running across 35 countries and partnerships with bodies including the European Space Agency, he said collaboration and close working with clients are key to building out a viable agri-tech product.

Elsewhere, Charlie Sheridan of Intel, William McKnight of John Deere UK and Vincent McKey of IBM Ireland spoke around the area of Connecting Big Ideas. While the afternoon also covered off the area of Connecting Funding.

With clear potential to innovate and excite consumers in this sector, the future of agri-tech in Ireland looks to be a bright one. To learn more, follow @PeterYoung on Twitter and stay up to date with the latest in the sector on the Irish Farmer’s Journal.