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Farmers flock to Monitor Farm Scotland meeting to get hands-on with tech

02/02/2024
Around 100 delegates gather in the sheep ring at UA for Keynote speakers Matt Blyth and Ross Robertson

MORE THAN 75 farmers attended day of discussions and practical demonstrations at United Auctions in Stirling to find out what farm management software and technology is right for their farming business. 

Organised by Monitor Farm Scotland in partnership with the EU-funded Sm@RT project and led by SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) with contributions from SAC Consulting and Moredun, the event brought a variety of farm software and innovative farm equipment providers under one roof, alongside experts who guided the audience through the decision-making process.  Farmers were able to see and try different software and technologies before deciding which ones would suit their system.

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Matt Blyth, an experienced innovator in the sheep and beef industry specialising in data recording and software, stressed the significance of a structured approach. According to Matt: “The first step is to sit down with pen and paper and draw three areas that you would like to focus on in your herd or flock. Next, determine what data points you need to capture, and finally, consider what resources are available to assist you. One of the biggest challenges farmers encounter is dealing with software and pieces of equipment that are not compatible. I urge farmers to take this into account before making an investment.”

Ross Robertson Head of Agri-Tech (Mixed) with the Agri-EPI Centre, added: “Compatibility, price, and ease of use would be my top three criteria to consider if looking to invest in software or equipment. Make sure to speak to your peers, try a demonstration yourself or see the product in practice at a demonstration day, Monitor Farm event or on another farm. This can be a large investment for your business so ensuring you find the product easy to use can enhance the return on investment.”

Technology is widely acknowledged to hold a myriad of benefits from informing decision-making and increasing efficiencies to lowering costs and carbon footprints.

Christine Cuthbertson, Monitor Farm West region advisor, said: “The first year of the Monitor Farm Scotland programme highlighted the opportunities for using farm software to assist with on-farm recording to make business decisions easier and the feedback from those who attend has been that it has increased their knowledge on what questions they need to ask themselves and providers in order to get the right solutions for their own situation on farm.”  

Crawford Mclaren, a beef farmer from Crieff, attended the Monitor Farm Scotland event and commented: “One of the challenges we are facing is incorporating the data from weight recording and medicine use into our current management programme. The event has highlighted the importance of compatibility of software programmes, and we can see some options that are now available,” he said.

Claire Morgan-Davies (SRUC), coordinator of Sm@RT, said: The event has been very successful and a great opportunity for sharing information and farmers’ needs between our international project and the work done by Monitor Farm Scotland. I think the discussions and interactions between the farmers and the companies present have been invaluable, and hopefully helped farmers with their farm management decisions when it comes to technology uptake”.

Further information about the EU-funded project can be found at: www.smartplatform.network 

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