Fertility Theme Technology Demonstration Farms

One of three groups of cows and calves grazing at the CAFRE Hill Farm Centre during the breeding season August 2019.
One of three groups of cows and calves grazing at the CAFRE Hill Farm Centre during the breeding season August 2019.

To encourage a greater rate of technology adoption on farms in Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is seeking to establish a network of Technology Demonstration Farmers who will host visits and showcase the use of innovative technologies on their farms, writes Natasha Ferguson, Beef Technologist, CAFRE.

Technology Demonstration Farms (TDFs) are being used to help DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) to deliver the Innovation, Technology, Evaluation, and Demonstration Scheme. This new scheme, is part of the NI Rural Development Programme.

Initially two suckler farms will be selected for the CAFRE TDFs fertility theme. Eligible farms are expected to highlight a range of technologies which should currently be used on the farm. In order to be selected for the Fertility TDF your farm must have the following required technologies in place (please see TDF Terms and Conditions for further information).

· Pre-breeding health check of the breeding herd – for example demonstrate on farm recording of disease incidence of replacement heifers in the herd.

· Heat detection systems – for example demonstrate systems on your farm that accurately estimate the time on conception and therefore accurately predict calving due dates.

· Pregnancy diagnosis – for example demonstrate the use of pregnancy diagnosis six weeks after removing the bull from the breeding stock.

· Herd Health Plan – for example demonstrate an annual herd health plan to include a vaccination policy.

· Sire Selection – for example demonstrate the use of beef performance recorded bulls to increase beef output from your herd.

Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria, and are shortlisted, will be assessed by a panel during a visit to their farm. Selected farms will be expected to host between eight and twelve visits for groups of between five and twenty five farmers. These visits will focus on the performance of the enterprise and will include data collected by the host farmers. The CAFRE Beef Technologist and scheme support staff will help the host fertility farmer prepare information in relation to the farm for visits. At each visit a support assistant will be available to help them with arrangements. All bookings will be made through CAFRE.

Technology Demonstration Farms will receive a hosting payment of £600 for each visit. In addition CAFRE will support TDFs by analysing the performance of the technology on their farm, providing appropriate diagnostic testing and arranging, where appropriate for specialists to visit and speak on their farm.

Suckler farmers who may be interested in becoming a Fertility Theme Technology Demonstration Farm can find out more details about the scheme and complete an online application from the CAFRE website: https://www.cafre.ac.uk/2019/09/daera-invites-applications-for-beef-and-sheep-technology-demonstration-farms/

Applications are currently open and will close at 4.00pm on Monday 14 October 2019.