National Broadband Plan to Drive SMART Agriculture
Teagasc today welcomed proposals published by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR), in Connecting Communities, the National Broadband Plan to extend high speed broadband to most rural areas.
Connecting Communities anticipates if Government sanctions the plan that 96% of the land mass, covering 1.8m citizens outside of the towns and cities, including 94% of farms would have access to high speed broadband with a minimum download speed of 30Mbps and upload speed of 6Mbps.
The new Food Wise 2025 strategy for the Agricultural sector envisages an increase in Primary Agricultural production by 65% and exports by 80% to 2025, making a significant contribution to Ireland’s economic recovery.
Key to delivering this growth strategy will be the development and adoption of new technologies. Teagasc is taking a national lead in SMART Agriculture where a wide variety of data sources and sensors are distilled into useable information for farmers.
Precision agriculture brings together information from field, animal and machinery based sensors, together with localised weather forecast data, localised soil information and grass growth data gleaned from satellite imagery to assist farmers in making precise decisions in relation to inputs, technologies and management practices. Thus Precision Agriculture, by enabling better targeting of inputs and resources, can increase both a farmer’s bottom line and improve the environment.
Access to high speed broadband allows for the development of on-farm ICT solutions to be developed enabling better and faster decision making. High speed broadband also makes it easier for farmers to interact, particularly in terms of farm maps, with DAFM Scheme systems and will allow for greater opportunities for eCommerce both in terms of purchasing and selling.
This is an area of growing importance internationally. Having high speed broadband in Rural Ireland will enable Irish Family Farms to embrace and catch up with these SMART Agriculture based technologies. They will also enable commercial opportunities for Agri-tech companies to develop new products and tools, with the potential to sell both into the Irish market and overseas.