Agri tech is everything from a fancy shovel to artificial intelligence, Padraig Hennessy – CEO of Terra Nutritech – told a conference at UCD’s new AgTech Innovation Centre on Lyons Farm on Tuesday.

The conference focused on the future of Irish agriculture through the use of technology, with companies from across the industry also pitching their products and services.

Hennessy, who is also the chair of Agtech Ireland, said that farmers need more education on technologies which can be used on-farm.

“There’s an education piece and a validation piece needed. The likes of Teagasc really need to come in there and help farmers understand what technology is and what it can do. There is a reticence to adopt and some of it is down to not understanding the capabilities,” he said.

Return on investment

Speaking alongside Hennessy, Catherine Heffernan, a technical and customer success manager at MSD, said that return on investment is not always about money.

She cited a recent study carried out by Teagasc where the top 25% of farmers were using 35 pieces of technology on-farm and the bottom 25% of farmers were using 25 pieces of technology.

“The top 25% of farmers were working a 50-hour week, as opposed to the bottom 25% of farmers who were working a 70-hour week,” she said.

Dairy and pig farmer John Hanrahan stressed that new technologies are only useful if they are needed.

“You must need a product. It must be good for the farm and good for the staff,” he said.