By @ interview with Anna Marie McHugh NPA Assistant Managing Director. The National Ploughing Championships are Europe’s largest outdoor event. 2015 saw the most successful Championships ever with 281,000 attendees and over 1,500 delighted exhibitors. This year, the 85th National Ploughing Championships will take place in Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly from September 20th – 22nd 2016.
For those that don’t know what’s the goal of this area and what sort of companies and products are you looking for at the National Ploughing Championships?
The National Ploughing Association (NPA), organisers of the Ploughing Championships, have teamed up with The Irish Farmers Journal and Enterprise Ireland to recognise and reward outstanding innovation in the agricultural sector in the NPA Innovation Arena.
— National Ploughing (@NPAIE) June 23, 2016
The NPA Innovation Arena puts inventions from Ireland on show to the world and helps establish their success by introducing them to the marketplace and facilitating networks that will help them take steps towards achieving commercial success. We’ve seen a number of individuals and companies launch new products and innovations at the NPA Innovation Arena, going on to achieve global success. Approved entrants will showcase their innovations in the NPA Innovation Arena.
The NPA Innovation Arena is the ideal place to demonstrate ground-breaking developments, whether they are back-yard inventions or professional innovations, to thousands of Innovation Arena visitors. Innovators from the following industry sectors are encouraged to enter: dairy and dry-stock farming, horticulture, information and communication technology, cloud and mobile based software, animal health and genetics, water and waste management, environment and clean-tech, animal and farm management, farm safety and leading research.
With a range of categories in which to enter, and a competition structure that supports Irish ingenuity at all levels, The NPA Innovation Arena is the perfect place to launch your new innovations.
— National Ploughing (@NPAIE) June 21, 2016
How was the 2015 version of the event? Which companies stood out and won prizes?
The overall winner of the 2015 Innovation Arena Award was Dairymaster’s Swiftflo Commander. See more here.
The category Award winners were:
• Cross Agri Engineering – Agri Engineering Award winner in established company category
• Malone Engineering – Agri Engineering Special Merit Award winner in established company category
• Acres Machinery – Agri Engineering Award winner in start-up company category
• Reproinfo – Animal Health Award winner in established company category
• Hydrasure – Animal Health Award winner in start-up company category
• Remoquip – Safety Award winner in established company category
• Inspect 4 Hoof Trimming – Safety Award winner in start-up company category
• Dairymaster – Software Award winner in established company category
• DIT Hothouse – Software Award Special Merit winner in established company category
• True North Technologies – Software Award winner in start-up company category
• AgManor – Software Award Special Merit winner in start-up company category
Ireland is perhaps more innovative in FarmTech / AgriTech than some people realise, how would you explain it to the wider community?
Agriculture is Ireland’s biggest indigenous sector, accounting for approximately 10 per cent of exports and 7.7 per cent of employment. This, combined with the rise of technology companies and start-ups in Ireland, is contributing to Ireland’s success in agri-tech.
Farming is in the middle of a digital revolution. Along with connected cows, there are smart irrigation systems, wireless fencing systems and sensors that monitor temperature and moisture in soil. The farming sector is being transformed by technology – the labour-intensity of tasks like milking is significantly reduced by technology such as robotic milking parlours.
What trends could make a big difference to farming in Ireland in the future?
The popularity and advance of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets have had a huge impact on famers and how they receive information as they wouldn’t be traditional PC users in an office given the nature of their lifestyle but they all have mobiles.
Air & soil sensors, Equipment telematics, Livestock biometrics, Crop sensors, Infrastructural health sensors, Genetically designed food, In vitro meat, Variable rate swath control, Rapid iteration selective breeding, Agricultural robots, Precision agriculture, Robotic farm swarms, Closed ecological systems, Synthetic biology, Vertical farming etc.
How many people are you expecting to attend this years’ event?
The 2015 National Ploughing Championships was attended by 281,000, we are hoping for a similar number this year.
— National Ploughing (@NPAIE) July 1, 2016