Teagasc is to receive over €1m in funding to procure 18 farm machinery simulators for the country’s agricultural colleges, Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon has announced.
The simulators will be used at all agricultural and horticultural colleges and will be available to students completing courses at the colleges and also to students at the universities and technological universities who use the college facilities for practical learning.
“My priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our farmers, and this investment of over €1m in 18 agricultural machinery simulators represents a significant step-up in the efforts of my Department and Teagasc to improve the safety record around farm machinery and tractors.
“They will be ready and in use in all the agricultural colleges in the coming academic year,” he said.
Driver operation has been identified both internationally and in Ireland as one of the major causes of incidents involving tractors and machinery.
“These simulators will be a great asset in teaching students the key safety elements of operating farm machinery.
“The simulators will enable students to train in the operation of a range of machinery. These include tractors with different implements such as balers, mowers and tedders, and also forage harvesters, combines, and telescopic handlers, covering all the common machinery operations carried out on farms. I am confident that this investment in safety around machinery will yield dividends long into the future,” he said.
Teagasc head of education, Dr Anne-Marie Butler, said the simulator training is becoming increasingly adopted internationally in a range of work sectors, including agriculture.
“Simulator use allows training in high-risk machinery use in a safe environment. Evidence also exists that simulator training with young operators cuts accident levels.”
Teagasc National Farm Survey data indicates that about 700 farm vehicle and machinery incidents take place annually.