Farmers and growers play a crucial role in co-developing agri-tech solutions, and REAP provides a prime opportunity for their involvement. At REAP, farmers can engage with scientists to understand the practical value of their research, explore the latest innovations with tech developers, and share their valuable experiences. The day begins with the Farmers Breakfast and concludes with the Farmers Panel, ensuring their input is integral from start to finish.
Co-development of agri-tech
The farmers’ perspective is represented throughout REAP. The welcome is given by the chair of the Agri-TechE stakeholder group and it is no accident that he is a farmer. John Barrett, Director of Sentry Ltd, has managed Ditchingham Farms Estate in Norfolk for over 20 years, and introduced many innovations, most recently a robotic cultivator for root vegetables following a demonstration at REAP last year of Robotti. The driller and harvester is being co-developed by family-owned farm Frederick Hiam.
In a time of challenge, a good scientific understanding is vital. There will be an opportunity to discuss the agri-science strategy with Defra Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Gideon Henderson and livestock farmer David Exwood, and also to hear James Green, Group Director of Agriculture at G’s, ask scientists in The Emerging Agri-Tech session to explain “so why is this of importance to farmers?”
The Farmers Panel comes at the end of REAP to provide a summing up and discussion of the take-home messages. Farmers want actionable insights and this is the time to review what these may include.
The Farmers Panel this year includes:
Andrew Pitts – second-generation arable farmer working 2,000 acres in Northamptonshire. He hosts the Hutchinsons Helix Technology Development Farm at Whiston and has trialled soil and yield mapping to direct interventions and support a move to a more regenerative approach to farming.
James Wright – first generation beef and sheep farmer based on Exmoor. His particular interest is precision livestock management and he is the UK Country Manager of Breedr, an app and online trading platform for beef.
Heather Oldfield – mixed arable and beef farmer in Lincolnshire. The family farm grows a range of cereal crops, oil seed rape and legumes and Heather is using her wealth of knowledge within her roles as an appointee to the NFU combinable crops board and Elsoms Seeds Business Development Manager.
Tom Clarke – fourth generation Fenland farmer. He took over the farm unexpectedly in 2009 after a career in business consulting with Deloitte and Accenture and this has given him a fresh perspective on managing the farm. He is the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Sector Council Chair and a member of the NFU Net Zero steering group.
The Farmers Panel is chaired by Vicky Foster, CEO of BBRO (British Beet Research Organisation).
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.