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College and university join forces to demonstrate new precision technology in farming

Farmers and further education students from across Wales have visited IBERS (Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences) to learn about ongoing precision agriculture technology research at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi and Aberystwyth University.

These events were organised as part of the ‘PreciseAg’ (Precision livestock farming for a sustainable Welsh agricultural industry) project which is run by IBERS and Cambria with funding from HEFCW and support from Farming Connect.

The project is undertaking essential, early stage development, of technologies and models which will aid livestock production throughout the UK and beyond.

The Precise Ag initiative began in 2018 and is focusing on factors affecting on-farm productivity. These include, improving parasite control strategies; developing technologies to assist in early prediction of lambing and the risk of associated complications; using tools to assess individual dairy cow feed intake; and using sensors to assess health in young dairy calves.

Open days were hosted by the project at Aberystwyth University’s Gogerddan Farm and Llysfasi farm to demonstrate and discuss how Precision Agriculture Technology can aid farmers to manage their farms and improve animal husbandry and welfare. The day included presentations from IBERS research staff who discussed different aspects of the PreciseAg project and the developments happening on University Farms.

Land-Based further education college students from across Wales were also welcomed to IBERS for a two-day Precision Livestock Farming taster course. Students from Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor Glynllifon, Coleg Gwent, Newtown College, and Coleg Sir Gar attended.

During the event, students got a chance to learn about Precision Livestock Farming research, including demonstrations of precision agriculture technology such as using accelerometers and GPS to monitor and manage livestock health and were given a chance to process and analyse data from these technologies. Students also got a taste of laboratory molecular work aiming to map Liver Fluke infection risk areas in fields, and had a chance to tour the University Farms with particular focus on recent investments in precision livestock technologies.

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Dr Hefin Williams, who is the Agriculture degree scheme coordinator at IBERS, and leads the PreciseAg team said: “These events were a crucial opportunity for us to share some of the findings from our Precision Livestock Agriculture project to the farming industry. We believe that Precision Technologies will play a crucial role in allowing agriculture to adapt to many challenges in the future and we are working hard to make sure that farmers are aware of the technologies’ capabilities.”

Iain Clarke, Head of Llysfasi, said: “Our partnership with Aberystwyth University has been a joined up approach in delivering scientific research and science onto farm, a crucial component supporting the Agricultural industry. Our role as a college is to engage with key projects and partnerships to ensure that our students and the Agricultural industry in Wales and further afield are benefiting from the latest precision technologies, expertise and adaption of science to ensure they are equipped for the many challenges facing the future.”

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