Farmers who would like to see their flock become one of Northern Ireland's two new Sheep Technology Demonstration Farms have less than three weeks to apply.

The Technology Demonstration Farm network, which is run by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), and aims to showcase the use of innovative technologies on working Northern Ireland farms.

The idea of the network 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.

The department is particularly keen to hear from new sheep farms in Armagh, Derry/Londonderry, Fermanagh and Tyrone as farms have already been appointed in Antrim and Down.

What's involved in becoming a Sheep Technology Demonstration Farm?

Those selected will be required to host between eight and 12 farm visits showcasing the use of innovative technologies on their farms.

Farms will be selected under the theme of Grassland Management. It should be noted that if a herd does not have Officially Tuberculosis Free status, the farm can still apply.

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

There is a list of proven technologies that should currently be used on the farm with appointments being made on a competitive basis.

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

CAFRE Technologists and scheme support staff will help the farmer prepare to host visits and at each visit a support assistant will be available to help them with arrangements. All bookings will be made through CAFRE.

Technology Demonstration Farms will receive a hosting payment of £600 for each visit.

In addition, CAFRE will support TDFs by analysing the performance of their technology, providing appropriate diagnostic testing and arranging, where appropriate, for specialists, to visit and speak on their farm.

How to apply

Farmers who are interested in becoming a Sheep Grassland Management Technology Demonstration Farm can find out more details about the scheme and complete an online application here on the department website.

Farms will be selected based on their use of technologies, including:

  1. Nutrient Management Plan;
  2. Reseeding Activities in the Last Five Years;
  3. Target Grazing Grass Covers;
  4. Managed Grazing System i.e. Rotational/paddock grazing systems;
  5. Silage Quality Assessment;
  6. Weighing Technologies.

Applications will open today on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, and will close at 4:00pm on Monday, October 4, 2021.