Technology has been advancing fast. The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated the shift in digital transformation, seeing society carry out tasks using digital tools to boost the effectiveness and scale of delivery.

Simon Howe, broadband officer, Tipperary County Council states: “Smart Agriculture IoT-based network solutions are increasingly being used across the agricultural sector, fuelling the demand for digital skills. Digital technologies hold the key for a smarter, more competitive and resource-efficient agricultural sector.”

But what of the farmers in rural Ireland?

A recent Irish Farmers Association (IFA) report noted that 60% of their members identify access to supports and training in their top three barriers to the uptake in digital technologies. To combat the digital engagement barrier, the Tipperary BCP Network will be launching a programme, 'Digital Skills for SMART Farming', to identify and share effective tools and methods to communicate digitisation opportunities to farmers. They will receive information and support to understand the digital-based solutions on offer.

It will help farmers understand new technologies adapted to their specific needs. Digital skills are becoming an essential element of modern farm management, as an increasing amount of digital technologies focused on the agricultural sector come on the market. This is also reflected in the regulatory requirements farmers face, such as the EU Commission’s demand that all Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application be completed online.

Meet farmers where they ae

Basic communications technology like a smartphone can still be a powerful tool where farmers are limited on digital training. As jobs and entire industries are changed through digital disruption, those affected should have the appropriate supports required to adapt.

Tina Mulhearne, digital officer Tipperary County Council, commented: "The digital skills gap is particularly evident in agriculture, and in response, a digital skills model is required to be developed for farmers where they can learn the skills to quickly analyse, assess and implement the best actions, solutions and technologies for their farm business. We look forward to bringing this to rural Tipperary through our BCP Digital Network."

Farmers are both forward-thinking and limited on time - whatever technology makes its way into the fields had better work and this programme will provide them with the tools to work smarter in a digital era.

Free six module programme

The programme is suitable for anyone working in the farming community regardless of ability, age or location. The Digital Skills for SMART Farming programme will help you understand the benefits of technologies for farming and explore initiatives for your farm to encourage the adoption of such technologies.

Modules will be delivered by the IFA, Teagasc and the ICMSA, and will include case studies of participants who have implemented recommendations at farm level. Attendees will be offered a consultation with a specialist mentor to create a tailored digitisation plan or strategy for their farm. The programme will be starting in November 2022 in a number of the Tipperary Broadband Connection Points.

This digital innovation programme is an initiative of the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD). It is designed to encourage local authority-led projects that support digital development. These projects promote, support, or otherwise advance the national digital strategy, Harnessing Digital – The Digital Ireland Framework 2022.

Please express your interest to, or fill in the form here by November 7 2022.