Agricultural innovation is thriving in Ireland. This was amply evident during the 88th National Ploughing Championships, the country’s longest running and largest display of advanced farm equipment and agricultural products. The 2019 edition of the show, held in Ballintrane, Fenagh, County Carlow, featured 1,700 exhibitors covering nearly 2 million feet of exhibit space.

Nearly 300,000 visitors provided plenty of evidence of the importance of agriculture in the country of a little less than 5 million.

Agriculture in Ireland is largely focused on beef and dairy, which accounts for 60% or more of the country’s agricultural output. The exhibits at this year’s National Ploughing Championship event reflected this focus, as well as the innovative approach to bringing this segment of agriculture into the digital age.

James Maloney of Enterprise Ireland says that Ireland is moving from being a food island to an “agritech island.” He adds that machinery produced by Irish manufacturers is harvesting grass throughout the world and is responsible for feeding cattle in every continent.

“Ireland might be a relatively small agricultural producer globally but what we do in the sector, we do extremely well. Ireland has the highest standard of agricultural education in Europe. The country has established a deserved reputation for innovation across the entire agricultural value chain,” says Maloney.

Ultimately, advances in agriculture will be driven by consumers, says Fabien Peyaud, CEO and founder of Herdwatch, an Irish developer of a farm management app and platform, says the use of data is helping farmers to drive more sustainable agricultural practices from field to fork.

“Digital convergence will be led by consumers demanding better traceability, higher quality and improved sustainability in their food chain. Up to this point, consumers haven’t really seen the impact of digital technology on the farm. That will change over the next 5 years as the adoption of new technologies and data-driven farming transforms agriculture. Farmers who add value by adopting better and more accurate ways of improving traceability, sustainability and animal health should benefit through increased profits. The provenance of our food has always been a big deal and consumers and farmers will soon start to see tangible benefits from digital convergence on the farm,” says Peyaud.

Many of the ag advancements taking place in Ireland are supported by Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority and Enterprise Ireland. According to the business development group, the global agritech market is expected to reach €13.1 billion ($14.4 billion) by 2030, up from €2.8 billion ($3.1 billion) in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of 11.9%.

With this in mind, here are some of the newest developments exhibited at the 2019 National Ploughing Championship and are looking to expand operations to North America through distributors or dealers.

Keenan InTouch is a cloud-based technology that uses telematics to link feeding machines across the world with a live monitoring center to provide farmers with real-time analysis and optimization of animal diet, health and performance. Specific solutions are: Consistency in both feeding and mixing, improvement in milk yield and milk solids, faster finishing, monitor and control feed costs, herd health improvements, and ration formulation.

Tanco is an agricultural bale wrapping machinery and farm implement manufacturer of a comprehensive range of silage wrapping equipment. It also manufactures a range of unique bale handling, stacking and shearing implements. The wrapping equipment range consists of machines for square and round bales and those exclusively for round bales.

Dairymaster, a leading manufacturer of dairy equipment, recently won a silver medal for innovation at EuroTier 2018 for its Mission Control milking technology, an advanced digital interface that introduces artificial intelligence to rotary milking for the first time. This breakthrough reduces milking time by up to 30%, improves animal welfare and maximizes energy efficiency. Dairymaster is known internationally for manufacturing innovative, hi-tech dairy equipment. Its product range incorporates milking equipment, feeding equipment, automatic manure scrapers, milk cooling tanks and health & fertility monitoring systems.

Abbey Machinery is one of Ireland’s largest and oldest agricultural equipment manufacturers. The company produces innovative precision diet feeding technology, environmentally friendly slurry spreading systems, high productivity manure spreaders, high output agitator pumps and accurate grassland toppers. Abbey also offers a variety of mixer feeders, including vertical mixers and paddle mixers.

Hi-Spec Engineering Ltd. is a family owned and run company. Its core focus is centered on the manufacture of innovative machinery including vacuum tankers, diet feeders, slurry pumps and slurry mixing whisks. Product line also includes low emission spreaders including dribble bars, trailing shoes and injectors. The Hi-Spec Kompactor trailers allows loads to be compacted on the move and, on average, 40% more material can be loaded in the trailer compared with similar sized trailers. Using a dynamic moving headboard, it can unload in as little as 40 seconds and offers a safer alternative to the traditional tipping trailer as there is no requirement for the body to tip.

MagGrow has developed a technology which magnetizes the droplets from a sprayer, causing them to bind better with plants, thereby reducing the amount of liquid required. Overall, it increases Overall, t increases coverage by over 40% and reduces drift by up to 70%. Field trials conducted in Canada during 2017, demonstrated that the MagGrow system increased the coverage on a canola crop by 36% vs conventional spraying using the same application parameters i.e. nozzle, application rate, boom height, forward speed and weather conditions.