The RISE Community Fund supported by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) and Granahan McCourt has awarded a €1000 cash grant to Darragh Haugh, a young farmer from Borrisokane, in recognition of his entrepreneurial use of technology to improve the operations and outputs of local farms.
In partnership with Macra na Feirme, the RISE Community Fund ran a national competition to find entrepreneurial young farmers with plans to use technology in innovative ways to enhance their business. As an active member of Macra, 20-year-old Darragh was quick to impress the judges.
As a second-year agriculture science student at University College Dublin, Darragh grasps every possible opportunity to support the family’s 110-cow dairy farm spread over 160 acres in the heartland of North Tipperary. From a young age, he has continued to develop his passion for implementing technology on the farm.
Darragh said: “During the pandemic, farmers faced extreme challenges as fertiliser costs continued to rise and the nitrates laws were getting more and more challenging. Sitting down with my father one day, we said to each other that this is the end of any fertiliser waste, in any shape or form.
“I had the idea of getting a GPS system for the tractor, figuring that this would eliminate any losses in the field from overlapping and it would allow us to know exactly how many acres we were spreading. This analysis could then be compared to how many bags of fertiliser we were using to ensure the amounts per acre were accurate.”
After purchasing the system, Darragh says that’s when the fun really started. “I went around every paddock in the farm and mapped them. There was no more guess work, no more looking for the shiny tramline in the sun. We could just press the button and away you go. Every single run is 100% accurate, you know exactly how much fertiliser you are spreading, and there is no wastage whatsoever. We estimate that we saved more than 10% of fertiliser, which translates to a significant reduction in our bills.”
Since mapping his own farm, Darragh has gone on to map six other farms in the area, and he has plans to expand his operations further.
David McCourt, technology entrepreneur, founder of RISE and Chairman of National Broadband Ireland, commented: “Darragh epitomises the entrepreneurial talent that so many young farmers in Ireland have today. What started as a lockdown project during the pandemic has turned into a scalable business that has already developed an incredible track-record.”
“As a global leader in agriculture, we know that Ireland boasts some of the most talented farmers in the world, and with this dedicated programme awarding grants to young farmers, we’ve been honoured to champion recipients like Darragh who have crystal clear plans to use technology in new and exciting ways.”
Mick Curran, Chief Executive of Macra na Feirma, added: “Last year we were delighted to announce a partnership agreement with NBI, endorsing its role delivering the country’s National Broadband Plan, which is set to connect over 65,000 farms in the country to high-speed fibre broadband. We’re thrilled that together with the RISE Community Fund, we’ve now been able to offer our members this opportunity to receive cash grants to empower young farmers with their plans to use technology. Many congratulations to Darragh for his successful application.”
NBI is reminding Tipperary residents to also visit www.nbi.ie to check whether their home, farm or business is included in the National Broadband Plan and to sign up for Eircode specific updates on the rollout.
Watch more of Darragh’s story here.
Photo Caption: Tipp farmer Darragh Haugh (centre) alongside Niall Beirne, National Broadband Ireland (NBI), and Alexandra McCourt, RISE Global Foundation. Darragh was awarded a €1000 cash grant from the RISE Community Fund in recognition of his entrepreneurial use of technology to improve the operations and outputs of local farms.