A farmer from the Isle of Man has taken part in an online video conference as part of an initiative to encourage rural communities to get online.
The Northern Ireland Executive is encouraging its farming community to make greater use of the internet and online services.
Today it led to a day of training in digital skills for farmers from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and UK.
Manx farmer David Cooil joined in a group Skype call between farmers from each of the administrations.
David farms at Ballagawne, Ballabeg, and is a winner of the Tomorrow’s Farmer award, given annually by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) to forward-looking members of the industry.
He is a keen user of technology to make his farming business easier and uses an electronic ID system for his cattle.
‘I’ve invested in technology to help the farm become more efficient for the future and it’s made a big difference to how I work,’ he said. ‘I can easily register births, handle medical records and track weight gain. It saves me money, cuts down on paper and, most importantly, means I can spend more time with my family.’
The training was organised by Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and formed part of the Go ON NI initiative to encourage the rural community to develop digital skills and access DARD and other Government services online.
In the Island, DEFA is moving towards having as many services as possible online. Farmers in the Island can already register births, deaths and movement of cattle, apply for horse import licences and seek advisory grants, while forms for many other services can be downloaded and returned electronically.
Dan Davies, Director of Change and Reform for the Isle of Man Government, said: ‘Our Digital Strategy aims to transform services and ensure everyone can benefit from being online. It’s great to see local farmers using technology to improve their business and stay connected.’
Belinda Leach, General Secretary of the Manx National Farmers’ Union, said: ‘More and more farmers across all sectors use the latest digital technology for communication through social media including Facebook and Twitter. The Manx farming group uses #farmiom.
‘There is increased use on farms of digital technologies, including GPS systems on farm machinery, electronic identification readers for recording data about animals and even the use of drones for field survey work and crop surveillance needs. A project like this highlights how Manx agriculture is taking advantage of modern technology and information exchange.’
For more information about the Northern Ireland initiative, visit:
For more information about online cattle passports, ring 01624 685616.
Photo - David Cooil.