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December NUI Galway Spin Out Farmeye Launch New Soil Management Portal
Farmeye turns the sod on a new era in sustainable agriculture
Agri-Tech company Farmeye has launched their new Nutrient Management System, the NMP Portal. The online, map-based system, for sustainable soil nutrient management is a tool for Agri-consultants and Agronomists to manage and monitor sustainable fertiliser usage on farms.
Farmeye, an NUI Galway spin out company, aim to create 10 new direct jobs and additional spin-out business with their growth over the next three years. Enterprise Ireland funded the company’s initial development work at NUI Galway through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020.
Company CEO, Dr Eoghan Finneran explained the Farmeye mission: “A huge amount of data is collected on farms and much of that is either lost or misused. For example, half a million soil tests have been taken over the past 10 years and the vast majority of those reports are buried in biscuit tins or lie forgotten in filing cabinets.”
Roscommon native, Dr Finneran continued: “Farmeye provide digital solutions to capture that data and put it to work in a practical, usable manner for the soils, for the farmer and for the environment. We in Ireland have a good news story to tell the world about the sustainability of our grass-fed meat and dairy produce, but without efficient management of farm-level data that story gets lost.”
Asked what the technology can do for the farmer, Dr Finneran responded: “The Farmeye NMP Portal provides the first digital step to demonstrate sustainable soil management and quantify carbon sequestration. The average Irish dairy farmer could lose €9,000 per year in lost productivity and extra fertiliser bills, solely due to sub-optimal soil fertility. Farmeye provide simple, easy-to-use tools that allow the farmer to make efficient, data-driven decisions on the hoof when it comes to efficient fertiliser and slurry management.”
Joe Desbonnet, company CTO and Software Engineer explains how GPS and barcoding formed the basis of the Farmeye SoilMate app. This Android app allows the Agri-consultant to trace every soil test by GPS to the field of origin. It cuts out much of the manual data entry and human error involved in soil sampling and drawing up an NMP. Because we are employing various GIS map layers, including European Sentinel satellite and real-time weather data on our system, we can easily identify regions and periods of high risk for groundwater pollution.”
The Farmeye NMP Portal has been approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as an alternative to the Teagasc system for preparation of compliance based Nutrient Management Plans such as derogation plans. This means that Independent Agricultural Consultants can now use Farmeye to prepare 2019 NMPs and fertiliser plans for Nitrates derogation farms, of which there are over 7,000 in Ireland.
Company Co-Founder and Business Manager, Brendan Allen added that while the soil management technology is core to the Farmeye business at present, that the Agri-Tech company has broader aims in the medium term. Mr Allen said: “Soil management is just the first step in this process. We have a development plan in Farmeye to become the foremost provider of IT for monitoring and managing sustainability metrics at farm level. And sustainability of our food production is about more than just environmental sustainability. Social and economic sustainability are the other two legs on the sustainability stool and without any of the three, the whole system falls down. For example, increasing farmer age and declining farm incomes across Europe are unsustainable. The key to ensuring a secure and sustainable food supply for the next generation is to put these tools on the farm, to measure these metrics and then take steps to address the weakness in the system, whether that be in nutrient management or food supply-chain management.”
Farmeye is also co-funded by the National Digital Research Centre and the NUI Galway start-up phase was funded through the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. Those involved during the NUI Galway phase included Dr Chaosheng Zhang, School of Geography and Archaeology, and Dr Michael Schukat and Dr Hugh Melvin from the Department of Information and Technology.