Applications for a network of Technology Demonstration Farms (TDF) are being invited by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The role of these farmers is to host visits and showcase the use of innovative technologies on their farms.

The aim is to encourage a greater rate of technology adoption on farms in Northern Ireland as research shows that early adopters of innovations and technology play an important role in convincing their peers to take more innovative approaches.

It is the intention to appoint six new dairy farmers. These will be people who enjoy welcoming other farmers onto their farm and can tell their story of how they have introduced new technologies into their business.

Farms will be selected under three themes: Feed Efficiency, Genetic Selection and Fertility Management and Dairy Replacement Heifer Rearing.

Farmers are eligible to apply for more than one theme but can only be appointed under one theme.

Official Tuberculosis Free Status

If a herd does not have official Tuberculosis (TB) Free status with regard to tuberculosis, the farm can still apply to be a TDF.

Visits can be held remotely via a video conferencing application should either TB status or Covid-19 restrictions prevent an on-farm meeting.

Within each theme there is a list of proven technologies which should currently be used on the farm. Two farms are being sought for each theme with appointments being made on a competitive basis.

Those farmers who meet the eligibility criteria, and are short-listed, will be assessed by a panel during a visit to their farm.

Selected farms will be expected to host between eight and 12 visits for groups of between five and 25 farmers.

Preparing for visits

College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) technologists and scheme support staff will help the farmer prepare to host visits and will provide a support assistant to help them with arrangements.

All bookings will be made through CAFRE.

TDFs will receive a hosting payment of £600 for each visit. In addition, CAFRE will support them by analysing the performance of their technology, providing appropriate diagnostic testing and arranging, where appropriate, for specialists to visit and speak on their farm.

Dairy farmers who are interested in becoming a Technology Demonstration Farm can find out more details about the scheme and complete an online application at Technology Demonstration Farms (TDF) Farm Business Support CAFRE.

Applications will open on Monday, December 14, 2020 and close at 4:00pm on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.