Top tips for farmers planning agri-tech investments are outlined in a new report compiled by NFU Mutual.
Fast developing agri-tech, from robotic pickers to fitness trackers for cows, has the potential to make UK farms more profitable while benefiting the environment, but the report warns that political uncertainty and worries over future government support for agriculture is holding back investment in the latest technological developments.
Fang Wang, is an NFU Mutual business analyst, is part of an NFU Mutual team that has researched the implications of agri-tech for farmers and global agriculture.
She said: “New agri-technology is set to make a major impact on farm profitability and even world prices. However, in the UK, adoption of new technology is currently slow because of uncertainty over agricultural policy and support, lack of understanding, shortage of capital and concerns about the reliability of first-generation technology.”
NFU Mutual research found that only 4% of farmers had already invested in autonomous tractors, while 12% were planning to invest or were yet to decide.
Fang added, “While entirely understandable, this hesitancy is putting UK farmers at risk of falling behind other nations in the race for efficient, environmentally-friendly food production.”
Fang, who has also worked in the automation industry and conducted studies on global insurance markets, recommends that farmers take a ‘whole of farm’ approach to planning future agri-tech investment to ensure new systems integrate with other parts of the farm management system.
The report’s top tips for farmers planning agri-tech investment are:
- Take a long-term approach – start by reviewing the farm’s strategy and then identify how technology and using detailed data could help you achieve your goals
- Explore technology systems that integrate not only the farm’s activities but also its supply chain, creating opportunities for farmers, food processors and retailers to work together
- Keep up to date with developments and ensure you have the management skills to adopt technology and successfully master the opportunities available from data-based farming
- Consider working with other farms, as co-operation can help achieve economies of scale both in the use of new technology and the adoption of a farmer-friendly supply chain
- Farm data is a valuable asset – recognise its value and be very careful who you share it with
More information from the NFU Mutual’s website: nfumutual.co.uk/agri-tech