Agribusinesses must be commended for their innovation in the service of Irish farmers.
They are playing their role in bringing Ireland into the top 10 for innovation.
The Global Innovation Index includes 141 countries, and the 2015 results show Ireland climbing three places from 11th to 8th.
The GII is widely used for assessing the state of innovation in various countries, and it shows Ireland’s ranking climbed steadily from 21st in 2007.
Innovation is important for economic growth, perhaps even more so in the more traditional sectors such as agriculture.
Farmers everywhere have a difficult task, which can be summed up as producing more, while conserving the environment and resources, and earning a return on their time and investment.
Possible solutions lie in science, technology, and innovation.
Fortunately, Ireland has a well established agriculture and accompanying agribusiness which has been able to build on its achievements here by exporting technology worldwide — and is robust enough to innovate.
But new start-ups are also bravely entering the market with their innovations — tackling the difficult and expensive task of launching new products, with no guarantee of success.
Last Saturday’s 2015 National Dairy Show Innovation Award attracted a record number of entries — testament to the health of agricultural innovation.
Entries included new products or service relevant to dairy farming which were launched in Ireland within the last 12 months.
They ranged from feed software to slurry enhancers, robotic milking to slurry separation, and hoof barriers to water troughs.
The gold award winner was a feed additive which combines grass tetany protection with feed buffering.
The silver award winner was an indoor drinking bowl which tips over for emptying and cleaning at the press of a button.
It just goes to show there is a technological answer for many of the problems encountered in the dairy farmer’s busy day — whether in milking, record keeping, grass management, or monitoring cows.
Combined with the stockmanship skills needed to keep the herd healthy, technology can make this difficult job more manageable.
And at the current rate of innovation, young farmers can look forward to one of farming’s toughest jobs becoming easier and easier.
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