Now a Research Consultant at Vegetable Consultancy Services (UK) Ltd, Dr James Fortune had just started his PhD when he gained a bursary for Agri-TechE’s REAP Conference 2018. He found the conference inspirational and says the contacts and insights he made have been highly beneficial to his career progression.
“I have been to many conferences since but that REAP was memorable.
“The keynote speaker Dr Zhenling Cui discussed nitrogen use efficiency and he was inspiring, to be honest. He had a paper in Nature, and to see someone of that calibre speak and to share some of their time with you was phenomenal.
“If I remember correctly, he had something like 20 million different data points, and it was the first time I saw some real solid concrete data that specific reductions in nitrogen do not reduce yields. Being able to produce the same amount of yield, if not more, by applying the data was transformational. It was a really good presentation, and one that really sticks in my mind.
“Whenever you come away from a conference you wonder what you’ve brought away from it. I’ve been to quite a few big conferences and there’s only a handful that I can remember so distinctly. At REAP I was fully locked into what was being said.
Developing contacts with REAP bursary
“It was especially good timing as it was early in my PhD following a year in industry at ADAS, and when you are early in a career it is all about building up the networks and the contacts.
“That’s one of the benefits I see from Agri-TechE’s approach – it’s very good at linking everybody together. Coming to an event like REAP, everyone is from different backgrounds but they’re all like-minded and keen to talk.
Understanding the science
James continues, “Some science conferences can be a little bit too academically-focused, and a little bit hard to comprehend or get a foothold in. Alternatively, some industry events can be a bit basic and you want more depth.
“I thought the REAP conference managed the balance well. There’s lots of different areas of expertise all being presented at the same time. It introduces things that you might not be familiar with, but you can draw parallels from that and bring it into your own work or your own thinking.
“I later presented in the Emerging Agri-Tech section of REAP 2021 about the impact of climate change on pathogens in oilseed rape and I am due to present further development of this work at the International Rapeseed Congress in Australia.”
Why come to REAP?
“If I was to sum up REAP in a few bullet-points it would be:
- Inspirational speeches, such as that from Zhenling Cui.
- High quality networking.
- Gaining a broad knowledge and understanding of how the wider world impacts agriculture.”
The bursary for REAP 2023 is kindly sponsored by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA).
It is open to UK growers, farmers and those in full-time education in agriculture or related discipline and reduces the cost of the ticket to £65 per delegate.
To apply go to the bursary tab on the REAP microsite.
James Fortune, Research Consultant at Vegetable Consultancy Services, will be speaking at ‘Ag101 – An Introduction to the Industry’ on 14th September 2023 in Cambridge. See more on the event page here.
REAP Conference 2023: Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone
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.