November 27, 2017

Clean sweep for agriculture

The Field Scanalyzer’s digital array of cameras, laser scanners and sensors provide continuous data on performances of experimental crops

Agricultural research and development features prominently under “Clean Growth”, one of the four Grand Challenges of the government’s new “Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future”, announced today.

“We will put the UK at the forefront of the global move to high-efficiency agriculture,” says the 255-page white paper. “Over the coming years, we will increase the incentives for investment in sustainable agriculture, helping to grow the markets for innovative technologies and techniques.”

Food production “needs to be significantly more efficient and sustaintable”, it says. “By using precision technologies, we can make that a reality: transform food production whilst reducing emissions, pollution, waste and soil erosion.”

Achim Dobermann, Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research, welcomed the white paper’s focus on agriculture, and called for concerted action now so that UK can see the benefits of “Clean Growth” on the ground, and fast.

“We need to accelerate the excellent science we clearly have in the system,” says Dobermann. “And we need to manage investment in a new way, so that it very quickly addresses the challenges in agriculture and we can position the UK well for the post-Brexit period.

He adds: “The UK needs a strong and competitive agricultural industry that is efficient, competitive and diverse, and farming that is sustainable – that’s clean agricultural growth.”

Angela Karp, Rothamsted’s Director for Science Innovation, Engagement and Partnerships, emphasised that it is what we do with the UK’s great science that matters.

“We need a dynamic, new model that focuses on the fuel that drives the engines of innovation,” says Karp. “That means less time thinking about new buildings, and more on how we ensure the research we do is translated into impacts that benefit the UK; less time planning and reviewing, and more time on co-development and on ‘lean’ approaches, where innovation is tested through sharing and engagement, and either succeeds, or fails, fast.”

Copies of the Industrial Strategy are available, here.

For more on the role of agriculture in the Industrial Strategy, watch a video interview with Ottoline Leyser, Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, recorded here, after her talk in the Rothamsted Seminar Series on 20 November.

Article source/image credit: Rothamsted Research