AgNav digital platform launches to support Irish farmers

Photo: Jim Cornall

A new sustainability digital platform called AgNav, which has been jointly developed by Teagasc, ICBF and Bord Bia, with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, was showcased to thousands of farmers at the Teagasc National Dairy Open Day in Moorepark, Fermoy, Ireland.

AgNav provides farmers with accurate and verifiable farm specific figures to support decision making on their farms to help meet agriculture’s Climate Action. AgNav has been trialled with Teagasc advisors and Signpost demonstration farms, and is being used by the new team of Teagasc Signpost Advisors, working with farmers to develop action plans for individual farmers to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.

Siobhán Jordan, Teagasc head of technology transfer and commercialisation, said that the platform is utilising the collective knowledge of Teagasc, Bord Bia and ICBF to provide data, decision-making support tools and guidance to farmers, which will be housed in one consolidated online platform.

Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc head of Signpost Programme, said: “There was a need to provide each farmer with an estimate of the greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions generated on their specific farm, and to do that in a way that required the minimum of effort on the part of the farmer, while allowing the farmer to explore the impact of the adoption of mitigation actions on their farm’s emissions figures.”

Jonathan Herron, Teagasc researcher in Moorepark, added: “AgNav will support farmers to continue to improve productivity, ensure economic viability, while also setting new standards in terms of the environmental sustainability of their farms. It will help farmers put actions into play so that the sector can strive to achieve the targets that have been set for agriculture.”

Through the ‘Assess’ feature, farm data is collated from the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme audit to build a picture of the operations on the farm, with data captured such as fertiliser use, concentrates and manure management strategies.

Herron explained that it allows for a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the farm to be completed. The LCA, which was developed through years of Teagasc research, is used to calculate greenhouse gas emissions, ammonia emissions and other environmental indicators of the farming system. This is then used to provide a “starting point” as to where the farm is in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. The second element – ‘Forecast’ – is a live decision support tool, which allows the farmer to calculate the effect different mitigation strategies at different adoption rates have on their overall greenhouse gases and ammonia emissions.

The final step is the Action Planner, through which the farmer and the advisor develops a farm-specific action plan to record the practices that will make a difference on their farm in terms of environmental performance.

Initially AgNav will be available to all Irish beef and dairy farmers who sign up to the free Teagasc Signpost advisory programme. Farmers will always control the data in AgNav that relates to their farm.

Jim Cornall is editor of Future Food Today and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.