Two open farm events will showcase an innovative agritech project that trials the use and application of digital solutions to transform farming in north east Scotland.
The ONE Agritech Programme is led and funded by Opportunity North East (ONE) with support from Scotland Food & Drink's sector recovery plan and delivered by SAOS and SAC Consulting. The project will demonstrate and validate the benefits and practical application of smart agritech farming to farmers to improve the productivity, sustainability and profitability of farms.
The three-year project has already selected the two Agritech Focus Farms to demonstrate tech:
One of the main activities in the project is to install, test and monitor a range of agritech solutions on the Agritech Focus Farms. Although the primary focus is engaging with the farming community, it is important others in the supply chain (the trade, processers, end users) are also involved to exploit the benefits from closer collaboration, particularly improving information sharing, to drive out waste and improve efficiency.
Jim Booth, SAOS, the project lead commented “We are all aware of the challenges facing the industry, issues such as: improving productivity, meeting climate change targets, improving environmental management, dealing with a shrinking labour force, and the lack of profitability – the application of agritech has real potential to make a difference and help farmers address these challenges. However, the main barriers to the application of new agritech are the low levels of awareness of what is out there, the cost of implementing new technology, and uncertainty over the value and benefit of new technology. We know it is difficult for farmers to keep abreast of new developments. It can be daunting knowing where to start and where to source trusted, independent information /advice. This is one of the advantages of following two real family farms on their journey as they trial new technology and their experiences.”
Two open farm events are planned to allow the wider farming community and anyone with an interest in agritech to visit the AgriTech Focus Farms, to learn about their enterprise mix, farming system, current technology use and future plans.
The first open farm event will focus on Tulloch Farms and will be held on Wednesday 27 July 2022, 1.30pm at Upper Coullie Farm, Fordoun, Laurencekirk.
Tulloch Farms is a progressive arable farm managed by Iain Wilson. The farm extends to 780ha, of which 552ha is arable, 115ha is grazing with the balance woodland. A diverse range of crops are grown including the usual combinable crops, including spring & winter oats, winter rye, broccoli, and fodder beet. On the livestock front there are 230 Simmental cross suckler cows, alongside 20 pedigree Aberdeen Angus cows. Spring calving cows are predominantly outwintered on hybrid kale and silage bales.
The farm already makes good use of technology using full precision farming on the arable operations, with the cattle EID tagged, using a Shearwell scanner to record weights and management information.
At the open day, amongst the topics for discussion will include:
Farm Manager, Iain Wilson commented, “I relish the opportunity to get involved in the project as I’m passionate about driving our industry forward and excited by the opportunities that innovation and technology can offer. We have a young team at Tulloch Farms, very supportive owners (Martin and Jamie Gilbert), and I like to think we operate a very forward thinking business. I also believe as an industry we need to co-operate more together by sharing experiences (both good and bad). There is an exciting future ahead, but only for those willing to adapt and change.”
Peter Cook, Director of Food, Drink and Agriculture at Opportunity North East; “The aim of the ONE Agritech Programme is to accelerate the adoption and use of digital technology in arable and livestock enterprises of all sizes to improve profits, save time and meet the challenge of net-zero carbon emissions. We’ve seen a huge level of interest in our agritech events from farmers and managers involved in all farming sectors wanting to understand the role digital can play throughout the supply chain. The digital demonstrator open days will give people the opportunity to experience technology applications in a live working environment and see first-hand the positive impact it can have in maintaining the region’s leadership in low-carbon primary production.”
To book a place on the Titaboutie Farm visit on 10 August 2022, click here.
At Titaboutie, Andrew and Daniel Robertson (father and son) farm 948 acres across three farms. There is 634 acres of arable land in rotational grass and cropping, plus 314 acres of rough grazing and hill land. The main enterprise is 180 head of suckler cows, mostly Simmental crosses put to the Aberdeen Angus bull. The cows are spilt between spring and autumn calving with all the calves finished at 18-24-mths. On the sheep side there are 600 Highlander ewes, with all lambs finished except those retained for replacements. On the arable side 200 acres of spring barley is grown for malting barley and own feed.
At the open evening, SmartRural, a subsidiary of SAOS, will demonstrate a range of low-cost sensors and the benefits they provide. A LoRoWAN base station has already been established at Titaboutie allowing sensors to be deployed throughout the farm.
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