Driving technology forward in the land-based sector

  • A project, funded by Carmarthenshire County Council LEADER programme is underway to help farming communities become more efficient by using the latest agricultural technologies

The Innovation and Technology project is based at Coleg Sir Gâr’s agricultural campus in Gelli Aur and is home to project officer Rhys Jones who runs with the project with the college’s external funding officer, Nia Lloyd.

The idea of the initiative is to help farmers with tailored support by researching and sourcing innovative ways of supporting their work using technology.

Technology can help in many ways to alleviate the work of a farm, such as monitoring cattle health, checking mountain flocks with drones and using sensors for gates which sends the farmer a text alert when left open.

The project is creating networks with many agricultural and technology specialists such as Lely (robotics), Techion, Vantage Trimble (autosteer and GPS technology) and KRM Ltd, who trialled their KRM Bogballe spreader at Gelli Aur campus before the college invested in the machinery.

Rhys Jones, project technician said: “We are encouraging the farming community to talk with us to discuss how we can provide solutions through research, technology and through our industry networks to address general and tailored issues affecting farms.

“There are also Welsh Government grants available through Farming Connect to support the project.

“The innovation really is impressive using technology to analyse problems such as worming issues where technology can microscopically identify eggs in individual animals and herds.

“There are also livestock ear tags that alert the farm when an animal is in heat as well as a range of robotics such as feeders, milking parlours and slurry collectors.

“We really want to help farmers be proactive by introducing technology to provide an extra pair of hands.”

Addressing the problem of network signal in some rural areas, the Innovation and Technology project is also working with Carmarthenshire Country Council trialling 10 farms with a large range wide area network (LoRaWAN) and IOT sensors to help address WiFi and technology barriers.

The Innovation and Technology in the land-based sector project is funded through the LEADER Programme which is funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales (2014-2020).

The LEADER programme is designed to get local people, businesses and communities involved in delivering sustainable, yet innovative solutions to address some of the economic, social and environmental challenges facing rural areas.

In Carmarthenshire, the LEADER programme is being managed by the Grŵp Cefn Gwlad Local Action Group (LAG), which has developed a strategy which will provide the framework for LEADER activity within the county.