Marc Skivington

Smart Farmer

Slainspark Farm, Aberdeenshire

Sponsored by: Clydesdale Bank

With farm safety climbing up the agenda, Aberdeenshire mixed farmer Marc Skivington has come up with an innovative solution, which can ultimately save lives.

Smart Farmer is a cloud-based software and mobile app tool which uses a traffic light system to help farmers run checks on machinery before starting a job, and keep on maintenance and servicing.

Farmers can add usage hours, photos and descriptions of any issues, and set alerts for when a service is due. All information and service records are automatically uploaded to the cloud, helping to keep paperwork to a minimum.

The app works with all types of farm machinery, and is available on Apple and Android phones.

Due to an ever-creasing concern about health and safety on farm and the need for prevention, Mark was trying to find a better solution for farm safety management, which did not burden users with paperwork.

Instead he wanted a reassurance that machinery was being checked, maintained and serviced regularly. Having not found appropriate software which addressed this, Smart Farmer was born.

To get things started and develop a proof of concept, Mark worked with an academic student and lecturer at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and secured considerable investment along with the help of a £5,000 Scottish Enterprise Innovative grant, and a £10,000 grant from Aberdeensire Council

Safety alerts

Smart Farmer helps farmers abide by the law and also helps employers, managers and operators better communicate and take responsibility for machine safety. The admin of the system can amend and edit checks specific to the machine in question, and warning of a pending defect.

Mark, who manages a diverse 1,800-hectare business at Slainspark Farm, knows only too well the importance of good machinery maintenance on his mixed farm.

He grows combinable crops, seed potatoes, turnips, and daffodils; milks 600 dairy cows across two sites; fattens 33,000 pigs a year, and has a 300-head beef herd.

The farm also has a 400Kw anaerobic digester; a 500Kw wind turbine; and a 400Kw biomass plant.

On winning, Marc said:

“I have never won anything in my life so I genuinely feel quite speechless about winning this award. Agri-tech can sometimes be too complicated in its use and ability to actually do the job you need it to do. I wanted to use my own knowledge and understanding to create a practical, simple database which can be easily accessed by other farmers who, at the end of the day, don’t have astronomical pots of money to throw at safety systems for their machinery. It is about trying our best to reduce fatalities we know are rife in our industry and this software system benefits farm safety and offers a solution.”

What the judges said:

“Mark is tackling the hugely prevalent issue of safety on farm through his agri-technology, with the potential to make a huge impact and ultimately save lives. The judges were impressed to see such a passionate individual address a focal area, which sees many farmers still refuse to address until tragic accidents happen.

Smart Farmer uses a traffic-light system to help farmers run checks on machinery before starting a job and monitor its maintenance and serving. A technology with a hugely powerful impact, and one which the industry should applaud and support.”