Students are learning how to drive tractors, combine harvesters and telehandlers on two new tractor driving simulators, costing over £100,000, at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise’s (CAFRE) Greenmount campus.

The simulators aim to improve safety both on and off the road, as well as enhance skills and build confidence in a real, working environment.

Each simulator cost £54,000 and CAFRE plans to install additional simulators and create a purpose-built training suite.

The tractor driving simulators will provide learners, particularly those with limited prior experience, with the opportunity to operate tractors, material handlers and other agricultural machinery in a simulated, controlled and safe environment.

Learners can receive reports on their driving techniques and when the two simulators are used in tandem, can practice many of the machinery operations on farms.

Poots in the driving seat

Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots launched the simulators on Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots in the driving seat of one of the new simulators at CAFRE Greenmount.

“This is an excellent investment and a first for a college in Northern Ireland. Improving safety on our farms is paramount and the training of tractor and machinery operatives is vitally important.

“It is amazing how realistic these driving simulators are and I am positive that even experienced operatives will be able to test their existing skills and learn new techniques.

“The students I met this morning demonstrated a high level of ability in manoeuvring through various situations and I’ve no doubt this high-tech equipment will greatly enhance the excellent training already provided by CAFRE.”

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