Increasingly frequent ‘extreme’ events create a challenge but also an opportunity for agriculture if science can keep pace and answer the questions arising from farmers. The Agri-TechE REAP 2023 conference, ‘Adaptation through innovation; beyond the comfort zone’ provides a forum for accelerating innovation in agri-tech.
Professor Gideon Henderson, Defra Chief Scientific Adviser, and David Exwood, livestock farmer and NFU Vice President, are the keynote speakers and they will create a context for discussions in this highly interactive event, which also features emerging agri-tech and a start-up showcase.
Prof. Henderson will be framing the direction of travel for agricultural science and discussing the challenge of balancing net zero and biodiversity with food production.
Science and farming is a two-way conversation
Professor Gideon Henderson became Defra Chief Scientific Adviser in October 2019. In this capacity, he is responsible for ensuring that Defra’s policymaking and delivery is informed by the best possible science and innovation, across the full range of the Department’s environmental and agricultural responsibilities.
Henderson says: “I see it as a two-way conversation: science is offering new options and opportunities for farming, and farmers are asking new questions of science. The activities of organisations like Agri-TechE are very important in supporting this dialogue.
Henderson is also Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford. Before his appointment to Defra, his research looked at the viability of routes to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and he led the Royal Society Report on Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR), published in 2018.
Recommendations from the report included creating demonstration projects of land based GGR approaches, and developing techniques for monitoring and measurement that would enable verification and validation of the emerging approaches for GGR.
Need for science-based verification of environmental outcomes
Prof Henderson comments that such science-based verification of environmental outcomes are equally important across many areas of government agriculture and environmental policy.
“For example, in terms of soil carbon, we don’t currently have a broad enough range of measurement tools to assess soil carbon content, but we’re improving with some clever innovations in that space. There is hope that we can soon take higher-resolution and more accurate measurements.
“One pressure in our carbon budgets is peat degradation. So much of our Grade 1 agricultural land is peatland, and although we are still at the earlier part of the learning curve than we are with woodlands, we are moving along that curve with farmers.
“The simple statement ‘we want to maintain food production’ is quite a tricky concept. I look forward to hearing discussion about achieving such production in the face of environmental pressures at REAP.”
Agri-TechE’s REAP 2023 conference ‘Adaptation through innovation; beyond the comfort zone’ is to be held on 8th November 2023 at the Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket, UK. Find out more at reapconference.co.uk.
Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket
Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’. Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.