As the challenges facing agriculture mount, innovation in the agri-technology sector continues to keep pace. This year’s agri-technology feature focuses on the role data and automation is playing on farms and how this will change over the coming years.

We chat to Lely’s William Conlon who runs through the main drivers when adopting automation in Irish dairy farms. A large part of William’s current role is focused on robotic milking systems.

He explains that automating processes that are repeatable or mundane is common in many businesses and dairy farms are not any different.

However, at farm level, there can be a reluctance to go down the automation route and confidence in the system needs to be gained before making the decision to invest. He says that when it comes to new entrants, the focus is more so on the information that can be retrieved from sensor technology or robotic milking systems.

James Healy, IP and business development manager at VistaMilk SFI Research Centre, runs through the role that blockchain technology can play in improving the sustainability of farms.

Blockchain is a system which we have heard much about over the past few years. Despite this, many still struggle to grasp what it actually is.

Blockchain is essentially a system of recording and tracking data in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change. As such, a blockchain system can act as a digital record of transactions across the entire supply chain. This system can give more transparency to the supply chain and help build relationships of trust with the customers. The article argues that this would better place producers in a position of power and force the supply chain to react and engage meaningfully.

Also this week, we profile the nine startup companies selected to take part in UCD’s new AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme.