Smart Rural - Empowering the Rural Community to use Mobile Technology

Smart technology is leading the way in many sectors and agriculture or agritech has seen major developments in this regard in recent years. In fact Irish farmers are amongst the leading in the world for adopting mobile technologies and leading the mobile revolution.

SmartRural which concluded in 2018, was an innovative European Funded Erasmus + research project that looked at how mobile applications could be used to enhance agricultural activities as well as improving productivity, social and economic activities in rural communities. The project saw the rollout of training courses in France, Spain and Ireland to rural communities and is aimed at farmers, their spouses or anyone indeed with an interest in agriculture and technology from those communities.

Catherine Murphy, Project Manager for the Smart Rural Project at MTU Cork believes that that the training in mobile devices and usage will open up many new useful applications for the farming community. “Our research shows that farmers are keen to avail of new technologies to support farm efficiency. The training course will support farmers who want to learn more about farming and related apps” said Ms Murphy.

Farmers are using mobile applications to save time and money. Mike Brady, Agricultural Consultant explains, “Productivity these days is key; Apps like Done Deal for example are firmly putting farmers in the driving seat when it comes to buying and selling goods and services online. Other apps such as Whatsapp are extremely popular amongst the farming community allowing for new conversations, knowledge exchange, new farming videos, and new farming techniques to be exchanged”.

Shane Cronin, Lead E-Learning Designer at MTU Cork explains how the training course at MTU Cork is designed to cover a great range of mobile applications. “There are many apps out there - the challenge is in covering the relevant ones for our learners and imparting as much practical knowledge and advice as we can in the one day. We’ve designed the course into logical themes including SmartPhone Essentials, Productivity, Finance and Health and Wellbeing”. 

Training took place mid-January 2018, in the form of a one day training course and follow-on field trip the week after to an agricultural technology facility in Cork. The Irish course was designed to specifically meet the needs of Irish farmers. The training was free for all participants.

The project concluded with a conference entitled "The Future of Technology on the Farm" in May 2018. The event featured speakers from Teagasc, ICBF, DairyMaster and Brady Group Agricultural Consultants.  Dr. Laurence Shalloo, Teagasc  outlined the extensive research that Teagasc are carrying out in relation to technology in agriculture.  Technology will support farmers moving towards precision agriculture which is based on information from weather forecasts, animal sensors and satellite imagery.  This information  will allow farmers to make informed decisions to both increase their bottom line and improve the environment.   Michael Ryan, Dairymaster showcased the impressive Dairymaster facility in Kerry and walked the group through the Dairymaster agri apps. Karl O’Connell, ICBF, covered animal passports and the extensive DNA database which allows for tracking of animals through the supply chain.   Mike Brady, Brady Group Agricultural Consultants brought the perspective of the farmer to light as technology is just one factor among a number of challenges that the agriculture sector is facing. 


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