By Jason Webb
There was double success for Agri-Spread International at this week’s National Ploughing Championships.
The Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo firm won the Machine of the Year competition, and the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Award, with their Automatic GPS Section Control precision trailed spreader.
Section Control is a purpose-built method of accurately controlling even distribution and precise application of fertiliser.
Exact amounts of fertiliser can be uniformly applied, reducing fertiliser overlap and gaps, for reduced costs, increased yield, and minimal crop damage or environmental impact.
Agri-Spread claims to be first in Ireland and the UK to design and manufacture a GPS section control spreader for fertiliser and lime.
The company has built a strong international reputation; over 90% of its production goes to markets such as Australia, Canada and the UK.
In the 2018 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena, Agri-Spread won the Agri-Engineering Established Company prize as well as the top award.
The Innovation Arena at the Ploughing has ground-breaking agri-innovations from 60 companies.
Other innovation winners include FreshGraze, the best Agri-Technology Start-Up.
This Co Westmeath firm’s product is an automated moving fence system which allocates fresh grass to grazing animals continually, at a rate that ensures the entire sward is consumed.
The cows don’t walk or contaminate the grass they are about to eat.
This product is still at a prototype stage, and is not expected on the market until next year.
JFC Agri won the Agri-Technology Established Company category with a technologically advanced automated calf feeder into the market, the JFC Evolution Calf Feeder, fully-automated and capable of feeding up to 140 calves. Its launch follows three years of research, development and farm trials.
The Safety Award went to the Machine Eye intelligent, pre-emptive safety systems for situational awareness around farm machinery and heavy plant, made in Co Down.
It protects against accidents involving machinery for operators, bystanders, and everybody on the farm.
The product was developed by a group of electrical and electronic engineering students from Queen’s University, Belfast.
The Dairy Geyser Instant Oil Water Heater brought Innovation Arena success to Cork by winning the Agri-Engineering Start-Up award.
The Agri-Environmental award went to Meath-based Harp Renewables fortheir digester capable of transforming organic waste in 24 hours into a stable, safe organic fertiliser or biomass fuel.
Ploughing Innovation Arena exhibitors will hope to strike deals with overseas buyers invited by Enterprise Ireland.
Announcing the winners, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen said: “Ireland is fast establishing itself as a global agri-tech innovation hub, and the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards successfully showcase the future of agri-tech and place Irish agri-innovations on a world stage.”
“The government, through Enterprise Ireland, is focused on working with the winners and finalists as they start, innovate and scale their businesses, grow exports internationally and create jobs in Ireland.”
National Ploughing Association Managing Director, Anna May McHugh congratulated the Innovation Arena winners, and said “The phenomenal achievements of the previous years’ winners are an utter testament that the entrepreneurial spark is alive and flourishing in Ireland.”