The National Dairy Show took place last Saturday, 22nd October in Millstreet, Co. Cork. It was here that the Shannon-based company True North Technologies Ltd. scooped two awards. The company, based in the Shannon Business Centre, was awarded the Technology Innovation award and the Overall Award in the Science, Technology & Software sectors at the national show for its 'Grasshopper' product.
Accepting the award from Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed TD on behalf of True North, Paddy Halton Managing Director of True North said “the company is delighted to receive the recognition this award brings and further validates what a significant number of farmers who use the system already experience, which is a significant improvement in their management information”.
The award recognises the innovation brought to one of the biggest issues facing dairy farmers - that of measuring and allocating grass to the dairy herd on a daily basis. The recently formed company worked with Teagasc at Moorepark, Fermoy to develop and trial the system over a number of seasons prior to launching the product at the National Ploughing Competition 2015 where it won the Software Innovation Award. The company announced it's grass allocation function at the National Dairy Show. The system developed by the Shannon company interfaces with existing third-party management software and significantly helps dairy farmers with the ongoing challenge of cost reduction while maintaining high quality output.
Chair of the judging panel Jason Webb cited the Grasshopper product as “offering a high-utility factor to farmers in an easy to use and cost-effective package” and continued “in particular the farming mapping function is a significant cost saving tool”.
The biggest problem facing the Irish dairy industry is one of trying to control input costs in order to maintain margins in a sales environment where volatile milk prices have been the main feature of the industry for some months now.
The Grasshopper grass sensor and reporting system provides the farmer with real-time information on grass growth and paddock performance. Based on the principle of 'what is known can be managed', the system provides management information to the farmer on which the efficiency of his dairy enterprise depends.
Grasshopper performance has been independently validated by Teagasc over three growing seasons at their Grassland Research Centre at Moorepark, Fermoy. Teagasc guidance to farmers is to start measuring grass as the foundation to a well-run and efficient operation.
“Grass utilization on a modern dairy farm is critical to profitability.” states Diarmuid McSweeney who led the validation exercise conducted by Teagasc. “Increasing the grass tonnage per hectare and using it to best effect are basic management principles made possible with good grass measurement tools,” he concluded.
Lead photo shows PhD candidate Díarmuid McSweeney using Grasshopper as part of the validation programme at Moorepark.