Ireland’s smart agriculture future is on a fertile plain
One of the biggest problems the world will face in the 21st century is food supply. This is where Ireland, with its expertise in agriculture and ICT, could be a world leader, according to WIT president and TSSG founder Prof Willie Donnelly. Donnelly said that the world will need to increase food production by 70pc by 2025.
Researchers from TSSG, WIT and organisations such as Teagasc are working on new technologies that will use the best of ICT, analytics and sensors to increase quality and quantity of dairy and beef production. Last year, a €446,000 collaboration between major Irish dairy producers Glanbia and Dairygold and Irish researchers was announced that will see data analytics and big data employed to help boost milk production.
“Globally, agriculture and food security are the biggest challenges for society,” said Donnelly. “One of the problems we have is the amount of land available for food production is decreasing because of overpopulation. So the real opportunity is for countries like Ireland who can produce safe food. Ireland is in a unique position because we are one of the leaders in ICT and we have all the big players here like IBM, Google, Amazon and Cisco.
“But on the other side our main indigenous industry is agriculture, so if you combine the two you really get a unique environment,” he added.
Donnelly defines smart agriculture as the combination of ICT and agriculture, making use of computing power and analytics and applying it to managing the entire food production cycle. He added that the ending of the CAP national quota for the production of milk is another opportunity for Ireland.
TSSG and Teagasc have taken part in an SFI-funded project to take a systems approach to milk production and create an integrated management system that gives farmers control over the production of milk.
He also said that TSSG’s expertise in communications and sensors can be employed to bring the internet of things (IoT) into the farming space. “We are in a unique position as a country because of the fact that such a huge percentage of our land is in food production,” he said.