It is now possible to have virtual marts that are physically closed to the public but are open online to buyers and provide real-time bidding information to farmers, according to Livestock Live.
The Irish agricultural software development company, which provides a number of marts with “leading-edge” software and a farm management app, tested its virtual mart technology last Tuesday (March 24th).
Webcams were installed into the ring at Carnaross Mart and online bidding via mobile phone and PC were tested.
Brendan Hannigan, CEO of Livestock Live said: “This was a pilot test with some farmers bidding and buying animals online via mobile app and PCs remotely from the mart. This trial was very well received and exceeded expectations.”
The firm said it has been liaising with the Department of Agriculture Food and Marine to “develop” a range of acceptable protocols, which will be offered to marts.
“We have been inundated in recent weeks with requests form major mart groups seeking to put our novel virtual mart system in place.”
“We believe that our existing mart partners have the technology in place and most major marts could be in a position to offer online virtual auctions within the coming weeks.”
They have proposed two separate options to find a way to keep the marts trading – those options are:
- To operate a video streaming virtual live auction where animals are dropped off and collected. No public would be on the mart premises.
- To import animal data from AIM, ICBF and Bord Bia to the auction. Videos are recorded at the farm and uploaded onto the platform. Estimated weights are entered (unless the seller has a weighing scales) After the auction, animals are organised to be delivered to the mart, weighed and price per kilo amended based on actual weight. Buyers collect animals at the mart. The mart use their internal software to report the movement to AIM. The mart facilitates the payment and collection of payments online to ensure sellers benefit from the mart guarantee payment scheme.
Replacing public auctions with online trading
Any marts held under these new protocols would be in full compliance with the advice, and guidance of the National Public Health Emergency Team, with public health protocols fully adhered to, the company added. “There is a full audit functionality for online bids to ensure transparency and accuracy.”
“Over the past number of weeks with the pending pandemic of COVID-19, LSL set out to combine years of developed technology to prepare for a situation where marts could be closed to the public, but that normal public auctions could be replaced by online trading.”
“Due to COVID-19 public safety restrictions, LSL software can run solely online auctions at the marts to facilitate farm-to-farm sales with no public present at the mart.”
“No public or farmers will enter the mart facilities. All bidding and viewing will be carried out entirely online.”
Marts a ‘crucial’ outlet
The company welcomed the decision by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, which will allow mart infrastructure to be maximised. “Livestock marts provide a crucial outlet to Irish farmers and account for some 1.5 million cattle and over 2 million sheep each year.”
“Livestock marts uniquely provide an open and transparent pricing system for farmers.” the company outlined.
Livestock Live (LSL) provide in-house software to marts around Ireland for the last two years. They have developed a platform which provides mart software and allows remote online bidding, video streaming and an online document solution. “In other words, a ‘farmer free online livestock mart.”
The LSL app can be downloaded on Android and Apple devices, for free – see more information here.