Kerry Farm Ambassador Pilot Programme – Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry
Selected as an exemplar case study by DCU in partnership with .IE
Funded by .IE
Funding awarded: €19,000
Maturity: Pilot (now scaled)
Timeframe: Pilot Phase from August 2019 to June 2021
Deirdre de Bhailís
Dingle Hub Manager
+353 (0) 66 915 0149
The Dingle Peninsula is a rural peninsula on the south western seaboard of Ireland, with a population of circa 12,500 residents and includes 120 farms. Farmers in the Dingle peninsula face a wide range of significant challenges including declining income in key areas, an increasing age profile of farmers, rural depopulation, as well as climate change and other environmental issues and the policy responses. To survive and remain competitive, farmers need to increase productivity and efficiency while also complying with increasing environmental regulations. Digital technologies hold the key for a smarter, more competitive and resource-efficient agricultural sector. However, a recent study by the Irish Farmers Association suggests that access to training is a significant barrier to digital technology adoption and use.
Dingle Creativity and Innovation Hub, Net Feasa, Teagasc and Kerry AgriBusiness
- To provide local farmers with detailed environmental and farm management information to enable data-driven decision making.
- To measure and improve farm’s carbon efficiency.
- To improve farm’s productivity and efficiency by extending the grazing season and reducing labour required on the farm.
- To assess the feasibility of using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in farms and their impact on productivity.
The Kerry Farm Ambassador Pilot Programme collected environmental and farm management data using sensors and management apps on six pilot farms. The data collected includes soil moisture (depths at 10cm and 20cm), milk levels, slurry levels, oil/ diesel level measurements, along with weather sensor data on wind speed (m/s), wind direction, temperature (°C), precipitation (mm) and air pressure (kPa). Net Feasa installed and maintained the sensors and communications equipment; data was stored and made available to the partners via a cloud platform. Even though end-users did not typically access real-time, Net Feasa produced monthly data presentations for the farmers to provide insights.
Dairy farming is responsible for a substantial percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy processing can also be a major contributor to water and soil pollution if manure and feed crop production are not managed properly. Better management practices with the support of IoT technologies may reduce the environmental impact of dairy farming. However, technology adoption is still low and a number of unanswered questions still remain about both the technical viability and the commercial feasibility of large-scale implementation of these technologies. The Farm Ambassador Project enables farmers to make decisions on farm management based on data and provides the opportunity to ascertain the viability of a range of IoT technologies and investigate their commercial potential.
The Kerry Farm Ambassador Pilot Programme involved six farms in the pilot phase. Following the pilot success and the inclusion in the Horizon 2020 project Ploutos as a Sustainable Innovation Pilot, the sensors have been rolled out in another 30 farms in the Dingle Peninsula in 2022.
The Kerry Farm Ambassador Programme comprises four MultiTechConduit IP67 Base Stations (LoRaWAN Gateways) which relay messages between sensors deployed on the farms and NetFeasa’s central network server and data platform, EvenKeel. Each farm had two Tekelek Ultrasonic LoRaWAN Tank Sensors, a Plug-and-Play Sensoterra Soil Moisture sensor, and a Libelium Smart Agriculture PRO Plug&Sense Kit with the following probes attached: WS-3000 Weather Station, BME280 node, Soil Moisture, Watermark (two depths), and PT-1000 Soil Temperature. A solar panel was mounted on the Libelium Kit to charge the internal battery. Each farm used the Pasturebase App for grass measuring.
Adequate sensor installation and protection is critical for ensuring data quality and avoiding gaps in the data. However, installation producers are hard to standardise as they need to take into account different farm’s layouts and requirements. Furthermore, standard commercial kits may need additional protective elements to prevent damages from animals or adverse weather conditions and associated costs.
Adequate sensor installation and protection is critical for ensuring data quality and avoiding gaps in the data. However, installation producers are hard to standardise as they need to take into account different farms’ layouts and requirements. Furthermore, standard commercial kits may need additional protective elements to prevent damages from animals or adverse weather conditions and associated costs.
Written by Dr. Jennifer Kennedy, The Irish Institute of Digital Business, Dublin City University.