01 Jun, 2021

Impact of Technology on Farms

In recent years, the pace of digitisation in agriculture has accelerated as farmers embrace technological solutions to enhance operations and make life easier

Our recent research shows that 80% of farmers surveyed use some form of agtech, ranging from pasture/herd management systems to robotic scrappers/parlours and GPS.

While technology is a powerful enabler, good connectivity is vital. For example, in the dairy sector, the majority (94%) of farmers surveyed for this report said that broadband is now important in the running of their business.

Cloud Accounting & Payroll

Penetration of farm management systems continues to increase, with many farmers now using cloud accounting and payroll solutions to help them run their businesses. Over the last 12 months, ifac has seen strong interest in our new FarmPro service, which enables real-time monitoring of cash flows and profits as well as facilitating interaction with agricultural advisors.

Covid-19 Impact

Farms tend to operate in closed bubbles, so things may not have seemed very different inside the farm gate during the pandemic lockdown restrictions. However, as in other sectors, activities involving interaction with business advisors and the wider community, both socially and commercially, suffered significant disruption with meetings forced to move to online platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Online Marts

Traditionally, the day at the mart was a chance to meet other farmers, talk about the industry and find out what was happening in the local area. When the pandemic brought this interaction to a halt, marts swiftly transitioned to online bidding. Farmers welcomed the wider market access, and a substantial 70% of those surveyed for this report said they would like online marts to continue when the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Human Contact

Farming is often a solitary occupation where the main opportunities to interact with other people are business- related—heading to the mart, chatting to the driver who collects the milk, purchasing supplies at the local co-op and meeting the accountant and agricultural advisor. Prior to the pandemic, these activities may have seemed like a chore, but the lockdown has prompted many of us to evaluate the importance of human contact.

Looking to the future, new technologies and online systems and services will become increasingly integrated into daily activities on the farm. However, human contact will always be important—nowhere more so than in delivering advisory services like those provided by your farm accountant, agricultural advisor and solicitor.