Farmer takes on Irish weather with app for fellow farmers

19 Sep 2016548 Shares

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Dr John Garvey, part-time farmer and lecturer at UL

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Dr John Garvey, a lecturer at the University of Limerick (UL) and a part-time farmer, has developed a weather app tailored for Irish farmers and the vagaries of the Irish weather system.

Dr Garvey, a senior lecturer in risk management and insurance at UL, developed FarmHedge, a free smartphone app that provides farmers with on-farm alerts directly relevant to agricultural activities.

He said the new app, which works on iOS and Android devices, is tailored to help farmers better plan their work.

‘I wanted farmers to have highly local and accurate weather information that gives them a snapshot of what will happen over the coming days’
– JOHN GARVEY, FARMER, LECTURER AND APP CREATOR

“The weather alerts are specific to the farm location and they relate short-term forecasts to the ten-year normal for that location to provide information on grass growth, animal health risks and other farm activities,” Dr Garvey explained.

Always take the weather with you

FarmHedge app screen

Screenshot of FarmHedge in action

Dr Garvey’s experience on the family farm outside Ennis, Co Clare, encouraged him to think about how farmers could use improved weather data to help them plan their work.

The very cold spring of 2013 and subsequent fodder crisis led him to think about better risk-management systems that could be made available to farmers. He began developing the app in UL with funding from Enterprise Ireland, which saw the value of the project for farmers.

“I wanted farmers to have highly local and accurate weather information that gives them a snapshot of what will happen over the coming days. We’re using the best forecasting model available, called the ECMWF model, and we relate that forecast to the ten-year normal weather for that location,” Garvey explained.

“The code at the backend of the app converts relative weather conditions into a set of alerts on things like expected grass growth or upcoming conditions for silage harvesting and other activities,” he added.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com