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Thomas Wedd brings farm business expertise as Agri-TechE’s new Membership Manager

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Farmers are at the heart of Agri-TechE, so we are delighted to welcome Thomas Wedd as our new membership manager.

Thomas was brought up on the family arable farm and has a BSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and an MSc in Crop Protection from IACR-Long Ashton Research Station, University of Bristol.

Before joining Agri-TechE, he had many years working with the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) as the Membership Relations Manager for CLA Southeast.

Thomas says he is excited about his new role: “Agri-TechE has a diverse community of members, and I will be guiding them through a tailored journey, facilitating interactions, and expanding the network. I am looking forward to engaging with other groups and getting the word out through visits to shows and other public events.

“Agri-tech is such a dynamic sector so it will be a very interesting learning opportunity for me. As someone with a background in membership management, working on the DEFRA Farm Business Survey, and in practical agriculture, amongst other experience, I feel I have a lot to offer this role.”

Tom Wedd
Thomas Wedd

Agri-TechE Director Belinda Clarke agrees: “Thomas has a solid farming background and has knowledge of many different aspects of the industry, these insights are invaluable for technologists who are new to the industry and also give credibility when talking to producers and growers.  It is great to have him on board.”

Thomas says he has seen first-hand how technology has helped the industry evolve.  “I grew up on the family combinable crops farm. Some of the biggest changes I have seen since then have been around the substitution of capital for labour, with ever bigger machinery and greater use of share farming or contracting, also the use of data to inform decision making.

Data analytics, to me the umbrella term for any technology that collects and analyses data about the business, is something that is becoming ever more present and important.

“I first saw the potential of this when I worked as a research officer in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading. I liaised with farmers and growers who kindly allowed us to analyse their financial and other records to feed into the DEFRA Farm Business Survey. This information was then used to inform and evaluate policy decisions, but in return the participants received reports of their performance, benchmarked against averages for other participants. This data could then be used for their own business purposes.

“Now we are seeing a move out to the production side with soil sensors, weather stations, and yield monitors. The analysis of this data can help make ever informed decisions. With the development of (responsibly employed) AI there are exciting possibilities.

“Other changes include the widespread adoption of the Environmental Land Management scheme in England – a unique system of public money for public goods – and other schemes in the devolved parts of the UK. I hope this will, by default, improve the biodiversity in agricultural production.

“However, I am ever conscious, in an increasingly unstable geo-political climate, that we must not lose sight of food production self-sufficiency as a priority.

“Agri-tech is playing a key role in all these developments, and I am really looking forward to working in such a dynamic organisation helping to optimise the member journey and experience.”