Kildare-based manufacturer of milking parlours and robotic systems Pearson Milking Technology is the overall 2022 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena awards winner at this year’s National Ploughing Championships.
The company has secured a prize of €5,000 and will showcase its invention, alongside those of the award’s 40 finalists, at the Ploughing from Tuesday.
Pearson’s winning invention - Bullseye - provides real-time body condition scoring (BCS) for dairy cattle. It is based on an automated visual inspection of the fat around the pin bones of the dairy cow.
The company says that identifying a cow’s BCS during breeding is an important task, as it is vital in optimising a farm's milk production.
The benefits to dairy farmers include freeing up of resources, improvements to overall outputs and increases in farm efficiencies, contributing to sustained food production and addressing the challenge of labour shortages on farms, according to the agri-tech company.
The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena awards recognise innovative agri-tech and agri-engineering capabilities and new product development in the agriculture sector.
The awards were presented by Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy and National Ploughing Association (NPA) managing director Anna May McHugh on Monday evening, ahead of the first day of the Ploughing on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, the best overall start-up award went to Micron Agritech, which provides rapid on-site parasite testing for grazing animals. It too receives €5,000 in prize money and will showcase its invention to patrons at the Ploughing this week.
The company’s new invention - the Rapid Liver Fluke Test - allows farmers to easily test livestock for liver fluke on-site through its Micron Kit app, with results delivered in minutes using AI analysis.
Infections in livestock by liver fluke are a major economic problem for farmers, reducing yield and leading to significant treatment costs, as well as representing a serious animal welfare issue, says Micron Agritech.
Competition judges found that the start-up’s innovation provides an efficient, reliable solution to this issue, which often goes undetected.
Some 80 applications from agri-tech companies to exhibit at the Innovation Arena at this year’s Ploughing were received and the 40 exhibitors selected to exhibit were all finalists in the Enterprise Ireland competition.
The total prize fund for this year’s award winners is in excess of €25,000, including two top prizes of €5,000 for the established and, separately, start-up innovator of the year award.
Other winners include Unison Process Solutions, Co Limerick, which won the agri-engineering - established company award for its pasteurising solution to make milk vending simple.
Lvlogics Limited, Co Meath, won the agri-technology award for a new silo-monitoring system and Goldcrop Ltd, Co Cork, won the sustainable agriculture award for its first ever Irish-bred red clover seed, called Fearga.
The agri-safety award went to TailJack.com, Co Kerry, for its TailJack attachment for a cow’s hips, which holds the tail up and prevents the cow from kicking during milking or veterinary treatment.
The young innovation of the year award went to Michael Clarke of Clarke Agri Engineering, Co Mayo, for his new dual-purpose machine which can both shake out and rake in grass.
Other awardees include Cotter Crate, Co Limerick (IFAC best newcomer); Concept Dairy, Co Dublin (UCD ag-tech start-up); Terra Nutritech, Co Kildare (animal health - established); Micron Agritech, Co Dublin (animal health - start-up); PGM Technologies, Co Kilkenny (Alfie Cox on-farm innovation); Pearson Milking Technology, Co Kildare (farm automation); Alfco Censortec, Co Kerry (smart farming); Tyndall National Institute (research emerging from a third level); Pondus, Northamptonshire, UK (lead international entry); and MartEye Limited, Co Galway (farm software).
Announcing the award winners, Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy described Ireland as a “global centre for agri-tech quality and innovation”.
“By focusing on greater efficiency across every aspect of modern agriculture, Irish agri-tech businesses are delivering forward-thinking solutions to address some of the industry’s greatest challenges and changing demands.
"The positive impacts that these solutions will have on future global agriculture, particularly in relation to environmental, sustainability and digitalisation, are inspiring."
NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said: “Congratulations to all of the Innovation Arena award winners and particularly Pearson Milking Technology as the overall winner this year. This is a remarkable achievement given the high standard and calibre of entries being showcased this year.”