SMART farmers are invited for new technology update

Cows grazing near Holburn
Cows grazing near Holburn

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is holding a free information day to update farmers on the latest technologies and innovations in the industry.

The college’s first SMART Farming event next Thursday (November 27) takes place at Woodhouselee Farm, part of Bush Farms, just south of Edinburgh on the A702.

SRUC Future Farming Systems group senior researcher, Dave Ross said: “SMART Farming is something progressive farmers are increasingly getting engaged with. That includes activities such as soil sampling and field mapping, the use of animal-mounted sensors and easy to use equipment for animal measurement and handling.

“We want to look at some of the latest developments in these fields, exchange ideas and discuss people’s experience with them.”

Producing more from fewer resources, with less labour and without damaging the environment, means farmers must use all the latest technologies to help them understand what is happening to their crops and livestock, says SRUC.

“In a competitive market with increasing pressures on prices they must also be sure they are not wasting money, time or inputs so proper measurement and recording is vital,” said the SRUC spokesperson.

There will be presentations from SRUC researchers and technology and engineering companies, who will show existing products and demonstrate emerging systems.

Examples of projects the college is involved with include a collar which reports back to a computer or mobile phone when the cow is coming into heat, information which can optimise the production process in the dairy and beef sector, said Dave.

The college and company involved are now looking into developing calving detection.

Another development is a device in the animal’s stomach which records the health of the animal’s digestive tract, information which can be accessed wherever you are in the world, thanks to cloud computing.

Dave said another system for crop growers, that is not yet commercially available, uses drone technology, where arable farmers fly their own mini-aircraft remotely over fields, to provide information on the status of crops. And farmers will have a chance to see the system and have a go with the mini-aircraft next Thursday.

Harbro’s technical director Willie Thomson will open the day highlighting the advantages of reducing variability in livestock production, and Soil Essentials’ managing director Jim Wilson will point to recent advances in real-time crop monitoring and the move from “precision” to “decision” agriculture. The information day starts at 11am

On Friday the college is running a free open day updating farmers in beef research at SRUC, Easter Howgate, from 10.30am.

College, Moredun Research Institute and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health researchers will discuss their latest work including an investigation that suggests the efficiency with which animals utilise their feed and the amount of methane (GHG) they produce depends on the population of microbes contained in their rumen. To register for either event contact futurefarmingevents@sruc.ac.uk or phone 0131 535 4030.