Scotland’s ‘Farms of the Future’ focus on sensor tech

June 5, 2021 By

THREE FOCUS farms have been chosen to be part of a new ‘Digital Farm’ project led by SAOS and delivered in partnership with SmartRural, Scottish Natural Heritage and RSABI.

The one-year project will look at how low-cost sensor technologies can be used across different farm types, capturing data that can help farmers make better business decisions, and find solutions to the challenges facing the sector, such as health and safety and management of the natural environment. The work is being funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund.

The farmers involved in the project are Neil and Debbie McGowan, of Incheoch Farm in Alyth, whose main enterprise is suckler cows and breeding ewes; Russell and Hilary Brown, of Inverdovat Farm, Newport-on-Tay, who operate intensive arable units focusing on cereals and potatoes; and Peter and Elaine Robertson, of Ednie Farm, St Fergus, who have a mixed farm, a large area of woodland, mixed habitats and a major renewable energy business.

Project lead and head of co-op development at SAOS, Jim Booth, explained: “Farmers are facing a future in which agricultural subsidies are likely to decrease and have a greater emphasis on rewarding practices that protect and enhance the natural environment.

“Parallel to this is a growing interest, at a consumer level, in knowing that the food they consume is of high quality, known provenance and has been produced in a manner that is respectful of the environment. It is imperative that Scottish farmers avail themselves of new technologies that allow them to meet the challenge of becoming more productive and profitable, whilst at the same time preserving and enhancing Scotland’s natural capital.”

Project partner SmartRural has installed ‘LoRaWAN’ on the three Scottish family farms – that is, those farms have been equipped with ‘low power, wide area’ radio signal networks that allow communication from devices not plugged into the mains or a computer socket, and well beyond the range of WiFi or Bluetooth transmission.