Tractor driving simulators have been launched in Northern Ireland following a £100,000 investment to improve safety and build confidence behind the wheel.
The region's first ever tractor driving simulators are installed in agricultural college CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus.
They aim to improve safety both on and off the road, as well as enhance skills and build confidence in a working environment.
DAERA's newly-elected farming minister Edwin Poots officially launched the simulators.
Alongside members of the Farm Safety Partnership, he witnessed how CAFRE students handled various driving situations and heard their 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.
“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 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 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.
Each simulator costs £54,000 and CAFRE said it plans to install additional simulators and create a purpose built training suite.
At present students can learn to drive three types of vehicle via the simulators; tractors, telehandlers and combine harvesters.