The hunt is on for two new arable Technology Demonstration Farms in Northern Ireland.

The region's demonstration farm network is led by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Technology Demonstration Farms will help CAFRE (the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) to deliver the Innovation, Technology, Evaluation, Demonstration Scheme.

This new scheme is part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme funded by DAERA and the EU.

What's involved?

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

The project aims to encourage a greater rate of technology adoption on farms in Northern Ireland as research shows that early adopters play an important role in convincing their peers to take more try new technology and innovative practices.

Farms will be selected under two themes:

  • Efficient Nutrition of Crops:
    • Use of a soil nutrient management plan, using soil sampling results to create a fertilisation plan, detailing appropriate fertiliser types and application rates on a field by field basis compliant with NAP Regulations.
    • Organic manures nutrient analysis - testing the nutrient content of organic manures applied to arable land.
    • Yield recording on a per field basis.
  • Minimum Tillage Crop Establishment:
    • Non-inversion tillage - using methods other than ploughing to establish crops.
    • Using IPM principles to manage pests, weeds and diseases.

One farm is being sought for each theme with the appointments to be 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.

It should also be noted that if a herd does not have ‘Officially TB Free' status, the farm can still apply to be a demonstration farm.

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

CAFRE Technologists and scheme support staff will help the farmer prepare to host visits.

Farms will receive a hosting payment of £600 for each visit. CAFRE will also support the participating farms by analysing the performance of their technology, providing diagnostic testing and arranging, where appropriate, for specialists, to visit the farm.

Applications will open on Monday (March 29) and close at 4:00pm on Friday, April 23 2021.