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    Listen again: Harper academic discussses the future of crop-growing for BBC Farming Today

    12 August 2023

    BBC Farming Today spent the past week talking to experts up and down the country about how farming may look in 2050 – and what changes we might expect.

    Among the specialists they talked to during the week was Dr Laura Vickers, Associate Head of Department for the Sustainable Systems Section and Senior Lecturer in Plant Biology at Harper Adams University.

    Crops growing under LEDS in a vertical farm

    Drawing in research already underway at Harper Adams, she explained how farms are already changing – albeit sometimes through the application of precision technology, in ways which might not yet be perceptible to an untrained eye.

    She said: “We could be integrating satellite technologies. We could create a farming internet, almost: a system where everything is communicating.

    “We could have better forecasting models that enable farmers to make more informed decisions on whether to use a spray or use a pest control method.

    “But then there are some aspects that could mean when you drive past a farm, it looks very different.

    “So for instance, it could be that a farmer decides to diversify their livestock building and turn it into something that is producing fresh produce and fruit and vegetables, utilising hydroponic technologies and vertical technology.”

    And while Dr Vickers believes that many crops – such as wheat, barley, oilseed rape and maize – will remain in the field, she added that it was likely vertical farming could see some changes in the food grown in the UK in the coming decades.

    She added; “Vertical Farming and protected growing systems like glasshouses or completely indoor buildings that are environmentally controlled do allow us to extend the season in which we can grow things, and they do allow an expansion in the type of crops and potentially the quality of crops, because we have better control of the environment within these protected systems – and that could be the change.”

    Listen again to the whole interview at the Farming Today BBC Sounds page here.




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