By Debbie James

Welsh farmers are using wireless technology to combat farm thefts as new figures show that around one in five were victims of crime in 2020.

Smart sensors which operate through LoRaWAN (Low Power Long Range Wide Area Access Network) can detect when a tractor or quad bike is being moved and data on these movements is logged on an app.

A farmer can track activity and, if movements are unauthorised, alert the police.

The initiative is part of Future Farms Cymru and is being jointly funded by the offices of North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin and his counterpart in Dyfed-Powys Police, Dafydd Llewelyn.

Six farms in north Wales are piloting the sensors, which relay data to mobile phones and other devices.

Mr Dunbobbin, whose office is part-funding the initiative, said it will help improve security in farming communities.

“LoRaWAN technology has been heavily invested in by the Welsh Government and it can be a solution to so many of our issues in the countryside,’’ he said.

Its launch comes in a week when an NFU poll revealed that of the farmers in Wales surveyed, 52 per cent of farmers were victims of theft, 16 per cent of fly tipping and 29 per cent of trespass.

Ten per cent had been targeted more than once in the last year and 24 per cent said that the financial loss to their business exceeded £1,000.

The survey showed that farmers are increasingly using preventative measures to deter criminals and secure their machinery, tools and stock.

Over half of the farmers questioned had upgraded security in their buildings and now routinely remove equipment from vehicles overnight.

Many had gone further by installing CCTV and blocking field entrances.

Almost a third had invested at least £1,000 in crime prevention measures in the last five years.

NFU Cymru president John Davies said it was “absolutely vital’’ that farmers report incidents and suspicious activity, no matter how insignificant.

“Our industry has a role to play in ensuring that police forces have an accurate picture of the level of rural crime in their patch,’’ he said.