That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Declan Molloy from Reap Interactive. We discuss his farming roots, the business, its first offering to farmers in the form of Bovine Plus and why farmers should embrace technology.
“I come from a small farming family in rural south Mayo; we have farmed here in Claremorris for many generations. I have lots of happy memories growing up on the farm.
My grandfather trained sheep, grew cereal crops, vegetables, and sugar beet, milked dairy cows, kept horses, fattened pigs, and kept cattle, dogs, and hens, amongst other things. It was a very interesting place to grow up, and I have always loved farming as a result.
I run a herd of pedigree Beef Shorthorn cows under the Stellar prefix, and I have some commercial cows also. I am a big fan of the easy fleshing, early maturing traditional breeds, which is why I started my Shorthorn journey.
It also helps that they are a pleasure to work with due to their docility.
The company is called Reap Interactive, and our mission is to provide solutions that make farming more environmentally and financially sustainable.
Reap Interactive is primarily a software company I co-founded with my friend, Kieran Supple. We are both farmers and IT professionals, so it was obvious to us that we needed to take our IT skills and apply them in the agricultural sector, where we knew the needs existed.
We set about trying to make our own farms more efficient by tackling the big issues for us on our farms, and from there, our first product, Bovine Plus, which I will tell That’s Farming’s readers more about in this article, was developed.
Bovine Plus is a livestock performance and health monitoring platform with the purpose of enabling farmers to make faster and better data-driven management decisions that will result in higher-performing animals.
Animals that are consistently achieving high performance reach their target market weights faster. This typically results in a more profitable animal that produces less greenhouse gas emissions due to its shorter lifespan.
On the farm, there is a physical platform placed in front of a drinker (or other incentivizer) that each bovine animal stands on with their front legs each time they visit the water drinker.
Each time the animal visits the device, data about that animal gets uploaded to the cloud for analysis.
In the cloud, this data runs through our machine learning algorithms that not only work out the weight and average daily gain for each animal but also learn about the animal’s behaviour and, by doing so, highlights potential health issues due to behaviour changes.
The data from the cloud is then passed back to the farmer via a user-friendly app that shows the impact of his or her management decisions on each animal’s performance daily.
Using the simple traffic light system in the app, the farmer can very quickly see if any animal is not achieving its target daily weight gain and can quickly bring underperforming animals back in line.
The product only requires an EID tag to monitor animals, and the animal only needs to step on the platform with their front feet to get their weight data.
This makes the product compact and mobile, so it can be moved with the animals in the shed or out in the field. The device can also be moved between different groups of animals to monitor weight gain.
The platform frame is made of steel with inbuilt electronics.
At a high level, the benefit is improved efficiency which leads to increased profit and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
The automated weighting feature also saves the farmer labour, time, reduces stress on farmers and animals, increases farm safety and, improves the accuracy of animal dosage rates, ect. It takes the fun out of guessing the animal’s weight.
The product is targeted at beef and dairy farmers. On beef farms, performance monitoring is primarily about weight gain, and in dairy cows, monitoring weight loss is more important, especially during early lactations.
We see a lot of interest from dairy calf to beef farms and dairy farms that contract rear their heifers.
For contract rearing, the device allows animals to be remotely monitored by the owner as well as the managing farmer.
It suits a farm where the farmer will actively use the data provided to make management decisions. Technology is not for every farmer, but those that use it see the benefits.
These are challenging times in agriculture, especially in beef and dairy. Farmers will need to evolve to grow, so maybe it is time for more farmers to embrace technology.
There is no doubt technology will play a major role in the future of agriculture.
Our product enables us to produce even more environmentally sustainable food, and there is no reason we cannot be a world leader in this space. Efficiency improvements will get us there.
The cost depends on the requirement, so contact us, and we are happy to discuss.
Product roll-out and expansion
We have just launched this particular product, so we are focused on gaining market share in Ireland and elsewhere.
We plan to expand the team and roll out the product all over Ireland before expanding outside of Ireland. Also, we are continuously working on new features and have had a long trial period, so we are happy to have finally launched.
We also have a long technical roadmap that we are working on so expect more from this particular product in the near future.
You can contact us through our website – www.reapinteractive.com
To share your story, email – [email protected]