Minister in the driving seat as he launches NI’s first tractor driving simulators

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA takes the wheel of one of CAFRE's new tractor driving simulators at Greenmount Campus watched by Level 3 Land-based Engineering student Christopher Robinson. The £100,000 investment in two simulators will allow students to learn in a safe environment and are the first to be used in an NI college. Photo Diarmuid McLaughlin

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots  got into the driving seat today at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus in Antrim when he officially launched Northern Ireland’s first ever tractor driving simulators.

The two new simulators represent an investment of £100,000 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and aim to improve safety both on and off the road, as well as enhance skills and build confidence in a real, working environment.

CAFRE Level 3 student Erica Stewart, from Magherafelt, who is studying for a Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma In Agriculture demonstrates one of CAFRE’s new tractor driving simulators at Greenmount Campus, Co. Antrim. The simulators will enable students to learn in a safe environment as part of a £100,000 investment, before driving in a real farming/contracting environnment. The simulators will also be used within CAFRE’s tractor driving courses for 13-15 year olds. Photo Diarmuid McLaughlin


In addition to trying out one of the simulators, Mr Poots, alongside members of the Farm Safety Partnership, witnessed how CAFRE students handled various driving situations and heard their positive views on the high-tech equipment.

Minister Poots said: “This is an excellent investment and a first for a college in Northern Ireland. Improving safety on our farms is paramount and the training of tractor and machinery operatives is vitally important.

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots pictured launching CAFRE’s new tractor driving simulators at Greenmount Campus. The £100,000 investment will enable students to learn within a safe environment and are the first such simulators to be used in an NI college. Pictured (from Left-right) are; students Chesney Ferguson, Erica Stewart, Minister Poots MLA, Katie Hepburn, Scott Starkey, Matthew Jenkins and Christopher Robinson. Photo Diarmuid McLaughlin


“It is amazing how realistic these driving simulators are and I am positive that even experienced operatives will be able to test their existing skills and learn new techniques.

“The students I met this morning demonstrated a high level of ability in manoeuvring through various situations and I’ve no doubt this high-tech equipment will greatly enhance the excellent training already provided by CAFRE.”

The tractor driving simulators will provide learners, particularly those with limited prior experience, with the opportunity to operate tractors, material handlers and other agricultural machinery in a simulated, controlled and safe environment.

Learners can receive reports on their driving techniques and when the two simulators are used in tandem, can practice many of the machinery operations on farms.


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