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Perfect storm for agri-tech innovation

Agri-Tech East hosts conference bringing together farming, science and technology.

belinda clarke

Belinda Clarke on farm

Agri-tech offers huge market potential and to address this Agri-Tech East is hosting the REAP conference – Realising our Economic and Agricultural Potential – which provides a unique opportunity for producers and growers to voice their needs and for technologists, entrepreneurs and investors to gain a deep insight into the challenges facing this exciting industry sector. The conference is to be held on 12 November 2014, NIAB Park Farm, Cambridge.

By 2030 the UK will need the equivalent of 7 million more hectares of land to support our growing population. It is estimated that with ‘smart use’ of land and technology we could release more benefit from existing land resources.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, says: “We now have a perfect storm where there is a clearly articulated market need for innovation and an appetite for change.

“Agri-Tech East proposes that the East of England, the crucible of the agricultural revolution, takes a lead in identifying what ‘smart use’ means in the real world.”

Agri-Tech East is advised by a Stakeholder Group which includes producer groups and research institutes. Chair of the group Julius Joel, is managing director of Greens, the UK operating group for Spearhead International, which directly farms 5,500 hectares in the UK.

He comments: “Although yields under trial conditions have increased year on year, industry average yields have barely improved over the last 20 years. What we want to do is improve productivity and resilience of farming so that it is performing well whatever the weather or disease conditions.”

Dr Clarke agrees: “Innovation is needed, not only in the way we develop new varieties of crops that can perform well under adverse environments, but also in the way these crops are grown, harvested and processed. For farmers and growers ‘total factor productivity’ is the key consideration and a sound evidence base is required for the uptake of new approaches and disruptive technologies.”

To better understand the issues facing farmers and growers, to showcase some of the most interesting technologies emerging from the region and to enable better knowledge transfer, four well-respected organisations – Agri-Tech East, the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, the Suffolk Agricultural Association, and the Home Grown Cereals Authority – have joined forces to present Agri-Tech Week 2014.

Agri-Tech Week encompasses four events across the region of which REAP is directed at encouraging a greater understanding of the potential within the agri-industry for non-traditional players.

REAP includes a Producer’s Panel, presentations giving different perspectives across the industry and a Start-Up Showcase of new ideas and technologies.

Speakers include:

  • Ian Noble, Senior Director at PepsiCo and member of the UK Agri-Tech Leadership Council
  • Richard Burkinshaw, European Environmental Strategy Manager at Kellogg’s
  • Helen Ferrier, Chief Science and Regulatory Affairs Adviser for the NFU
  • Bill Clark, Commercial and Technical Director for NIAB
  • Tony Bambridge, MD of B&C Farming
  • Richard Hirst, Chairman of Anglia Pea Growers
  • Ed Moorhouse, Group Technical Director of G’s Fresh
  • Jeremy Macklin, Director of Technology and Innovation at Hutchinsons
  • Calum Murray, Programme Leader, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform, Innovate UK

Find out more by visiting www.agritech-east.co.uk

 

 

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