ResearchTSSG News

First data voices emerging from agriculture and forestry

By 7th January 2021 No Comments

AgriDISCRETE is a two-year research project funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine. It is exploring various aspects related to data in the agriculture and forestry sectors. As well as looking at technical requirements and new business models, the project also has a remit to directly engage with the people working along the supply chains of both these sectors. It recently held the first in a series of workshops with over 20 participants from 17 organisations dialling in via Zoom to offer their opinions and ideas.

The project is being run by three research groups, with three different areas of knowledge. Coordinators TSSG specialise in data analytics and ICT requirements. RIKON from WIT’s School of Business contribute business modelling insights, with Teagasc providing social science and rural development expertise.

Participants at the workshop fell broadly into four categories:

  • Data creators – farmers and foresters
  • Data generators – technology companies and food processors
  • Data aggregators – data specialists and public authorities
  • Data consumers – researchers and policy-makers

Note that some participants can easily be slotted into more than one of the above categories.

The workshop had a number of objectives

First, it kick-started one of the agriculture and forestry communities that the project will work with over its lifetime. An introductory session at the workshop allowed participants to place themselves on a map of Ireland through a virtual whiteboard called MURAL. The second main objective saw people stating their initial views on prior experience of data sharing and governance, before putting forward what they would like to see in future data arrangements.


Participants gave their experience of data sharing and governance, before putting forward what they would like to see in future data arrangements.

Diverse opinions were the order of the day and constructive disagreement saw many useful discussions make progress. Within the above broad objectives, topics on the day ranged from data governance at national level, to strategies for improving data collection, and data sharing at individual farm and forestry levels. Other discussions focused on the need for more clarity around data ownership and access, fragmentation of data sets, and a desire to reduce the workload involved in gathering data. Future challenges were also addressed, including the re-use of existing data sets, support for data-focused SMEs, and incentives for data generators.

The three research groups running the project will now analyse the workshop findings in more detail; this will help develop a set of business model and data governance scenarios that will be tested with people in the supply chains over the coming months.

The project would once again like to thank everyone who joined the workshop.