Agri-tech provides the next focus for technology innovation offering tangible returns within short lead times says Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-Tech East at Cereals 2014. The organisation is creating a global innovation hub for the sector.
Dr Clarke comments: “Sustainable intensification, where the aim is to increase food production on existing farmland while minimising pressure on the environment, is the cornerstone of current agricultural research and policy. To achieve this we need new thinking and this is driving a new agricultural revolution.”
The membership organisation, launched earlier this year, brings together cutting-edge technology to accelerate the growth of agri-tech as an industry sector. Dr Clarke says that East of England is in a prime position to be a world-leading cluster in agri-tech; not only is the region renowned for agricultural best-practice but also for knowledge of plant breeding, DNA sequencing, information management and advanced engineering.
She continues: “We are seeing the opportunity for new technologies within imaging, sensing and monitoring to improve agricultural production and this is attracting the attention of non-traditional players. There is a growing need for improved data collection and interpretation in a way that is appropriate for decision making at all levels.
“At the same time new demands are being created for plant-based outputs. Not just for food, but also as specialty chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry and as biomass for energy. This is creating new markets and supply chains so the value of primary production is increasing.”
Agri-Tech East hosted a technical seminar at Cereals 2014, with a panel of experts discussing how new technologies in breeding, monitoring and decision making have the potential to increase yield sustainably by 5% – 20%.
Dr Clarke chaired the seminar at Cereals: “At Agri-Tech East we are bringing together farmers and growers with scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs to understand the challenges and work together to create a global innovation hub in agri-tech, which will offer significant economic benefits to the region.”