The benefits of agri-tech and its potential to transform Scottish agriculture are set to be revealed in a new project aiming to showcase exactly how technology can be used on farms.
Jointly funded by Opportunity North East (ONE), Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Government’s Recovery fund, the three-year project will work with two farms to demonstrate different technologies and how they can enhance agri-businesses.
It’s hoped that by installing, testing and monitoring a range of agri-tech solutions, farmers across the country will feel more confident about investing in technology, ultimately helping to drive the industry’s long-term sustainability.
Delivered by SAOS and SAC Consulting, the project will work closely with two Agri-tech Focus Farms – Tulloch Farms, an intensive arable and livestock business in Fordoun, Laurencekirk, and Titaboutie Farm, an upland livestock farm in Tarland.
Over the coming months, both Focus Farms will work with advisors to consider different agri-tech options available to them, and share their experiences with farmers during special open days.
The project will also connect with players across the supply chain, including retailers and processors, to show the benefits of sharing data and collaborating to cut waste and improve efficiencies.
Iain Wilson, farm manager at Tulloch Farms, said the 1,900-acre farm already uses precision farming tools on its arable operation, EID tags on its 250-head suckler herd, and a Shearwell scanner to record weights and management information.
During the project the business will consider different crop establishment methods, soil health management, growing broccoli, fodder beet for livestock feed, and winter grazing of winter cereals.
‘As an industry we need to cooperate more’
“I like to think we operate a very forward-thinking business, and as an industry we need to cooperate more together by sharing experiences – both good and bad,” said Mr Wilson.
“I’m really excited about the opportunities that innovation and technology can offer us.”
Jim Booth, project lead of SAOS, said agri-tech has the potential to help farmers address challenges such as climate change, rising costs, shrinking labour supplies and improving productivity.
However too few farmers are aware of the technology available to them while the cost of investment and uncertainty around their value and benefit was putting many off.
He said: “We know it’s difficult for farmers to keep abreast of new developments; it can be daunting knowing where to start and where to source trusted, independent information and advance.
“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 being planned in the coming weeks, and anyone with an interest in agri-tech is welcome to attend to learn about the Focus Farms’ technology plans.
The first event, at Tulloch Farms, will be held on Wednesday 27 July at 1.30pm. To book a place contact diane.Whittle@sac.co.uk or call 01224 711044.
The second event will be at Titaboutie Farm on Wednesday 10 August at 6.45pm.