The benefits of technology in modern day farming will be highlighted in a series of seminars to be held at a major agricultural showcase organised by the Hexham-based National Beef Association.
Set to take place on May 21, at York Auction Centre, the NBA Beef Expo is regarded as the industry’s flagship spring event.
This year it will host three seminars – EID Benefits the Beef Industry, VIA the Future of Grading and Remote Cattle Management: Advances in Cattle Management - each aimed at helping farmers and processors understand what technology is currently available, what will become available in the future and how they can benefit from it.
Featuring experts from a range of sectors within the industry, drawing on up-to-date information, it is hoped the seminars will attract beef farmers and processors looking to create sustainable enterprises for the future.
Chairman of the EID seminar and NBA Beef Expo committee member Mike Powley, who farms at Elm House Farm near York, said: “Technology is much more usable and affordable now than it has been in the past and we use it widely on the farm.
“However the majority of farmers are not aware of what technology can do for them.
“These seminars will demonstrate how technology can be integrated and how it can save time and money, and ultimately resolve problems.”
He cited, in particular, the example of Heat Time Collars, a tool that can be used to spot when animals are on heat.
“This gives farmers the opportunity to plan and choose a truly international bull to maximise the traits they are looking for, using AI as opposed to using your everyday stock bull on the farm,” Mr Powley said.
“In the future there will be far fewer people working on farms; the introduction of technology will make those few much more productive.”
During each seminar, the speaker will offer a 15-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute Q&A session.
Chaired by Mr Powley, the EID Benefits seminar will include contributions from Robert Neill of Upper Nisbit Farm, near Jedburgh, Robin Batchelor Caisley Ear Tags and Chris Mallon from the NBA.
Mr Neill, who was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2013, said: “EID makes it easier to weigh animals more quickly and does the number crunching for you. This information is invaluable for budgeting, planning and overall farm efficiency.
“It is the old story of if you cannot measure it you can’t manage it.”
The VIA the Future of Grading seminar, meanwhile, will be chaired by John Hoskins, with input from beef farmer and NBA director Adrian Ivory, of Strathisla Farms, who will give practical examples on how VIA will change his selection and breeding policies going forward.
The final seminar, then, will offer an overview of precision farming in the beef industry, focussing on the opportunities for genetic improvement through reproductive technologies.
Jonathan Statham, of Bishopton Vets, said: “Up to now, the use of reproductive processes such as AI, embryo transfer and IVF in the beef industry has been limited; the extensive nature of beef farming, coupled with limited labour on farm, has meant there’s not the same opportunity to have contact, close monitoring and observation of heat as there is in the dairy industry.
“However, emerging technologies such as activity meters, rumen temperature boluses, GPS mapping and other spatial systems give us the opportunity to plan well synchronised programmes in the beef industry that will be pivotal to achieving better fertility performance.”
The Beef Expo offers the opportunity to meet with breeders, learn more about the industry’s latest technical developments, network, meet potential new customers and take home new ideas.
For more information, see www.beefexpo.co.uk .