Arming farmers with technology to 'transform' food production
AGRI technologies have the potential to transform UK food production but the scientific community must be able to translate knowledge and data to farmers on the front line.
This transfer of knowledge and how best to do it was discussed by high level Government Ministers and leaders in science, farming and food at an event in London today (Wednesday, November 27).
Following on from the launch of the Government’s £160million investment in a new Agricultural-Technologies strategy, stakeholders debated how a £70m Government ‘catalyst’ can be used by businesses and academics to develop innovative new technologies and bring them to the market, such as recent innovations of cancer-fighting broccoli or GPS guided tractors.
Environment Minister Lord De Mauley said: “Breakthroughs in nutrition, genetics, and precision farming mean the sector is one of the world’s fastest growing and exciting markets. Now we need to ensure this innovation is converted into practical tools that deliver in the field.
“The Government is investing millions of pounds into making this a reality. The challenge for the business and research community now is to identify where investment can best help us meet the challenges of growing more food in a sustainable way and help our agricultural industry compete in the global race.”
Defra chief scientist Ian Boyd said getting the right information to farmers was key.
“I think we should be providing farmers with information about how to be better farmers so that they can make their own rational choices based on the evidence,” Mr Boyd told Farmers Guardian.
“In Government, Ministers make decisions based on scientific advice and we want to see farmers doing that.”
Mr Boyd said the new centres of excellence, where new technologies can be developed, will be vital to ensuring information and knowledge is taken from farmers and then given back to them in a format they can understand and use to benefit their businesses.
Government Services Director at the Met Office, Phil Evans, agreed this was also important to ensure farmers can make more informed decisions.
“Weather has a real impact on farming and climate change will increase future pressure on production,” said Mr Evans.
“The Met Office has a long history of translating its science to provide services to decision making. We hope this established expertise can be used to help the agricultural industry become more resilient.”