10 Things to Know About … Space
Tractors and space may seem an unlikely alliance, but agriculture has come a long way from the scythes, horses and carts of Irish farms of old! Technology is driving a revolution in precision agriculture, and tonight (Monday, November 19) at 8.30pm on RTÉ 1 in ‘10 Things to Know About … Space’ presenter Kathriona Devereaux meets Teagasc’s Dermot Forristal and farmer Kevin Nolan to get behind the wheel of a satellite-controlled smart tractor to experience the future of farming.
Autonomous machines will not only reduce the need for labour but may allow a return to smaller machines, which impose less load on the soil.
According to Teagasc Crops Researcher, Dermot Forristal; “Satellite positioning allows farmers to cultivate their fields, and apply inputs much more accurately than before. With developments in this technology, we will manage every square meter in a field individually, accounting for soil, crop and grass variability; rather than the one-size-fits-all approach of today. This improved precision will reduce costs while maintaining production, and will lessen the risk of nutrient and pesticide loss to the environment”.
Dermot explains: “Auto-steer can today make the operator’s task easier; but like the car industry, the technology is available to allow driverless machines in the near future. Autonomous machines will not only reduce the need for labour but may allow a return to smaller machines, which impose less load on the soil”. Dermot believes that farmers will adopt this technology but only when a favourable cost/benefit ratio can be demonstrated.
Also in this episode, presenter Jonathan McCrea heads to the European Space Agency in Amsterdam to meet the Irish researchers who are playing their part in the development of future space missions. While in UCD, presenter Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin meets the team of students who are designing, testing and developing EIRSAT-1, a three-year project that will see Ireland’s first satellite – a cubesat – launched from the International Station. And in ‘Weird Science’, Fergus McAuliffe, reveals the Cold War battle to develop the space pen over the space pencil.
The promotional video for this episode can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/L4BCTsn_nQc