3 November 2017
Harper Adams University's work to develop precision agriculture systems has been highlighted in the House of Lords.
The Baroness Byford DBE told peers: "...We need more highly skilled scientists, technicians and engineers. In a world where GPS systems are the norm, where drones can ?give the exact area of crops that need fertiliser or other dressings and where robots will be able to pick soft fruit, one realises that farming methods have changed rapidly. A hundred years ago, the steam tractor was being developed. Today’s developments will change traditional methods of production, opening up new opportunities. As some noble Lords will know, earlier this year Harper Adams University cultivated, planted and harvested a complete field of barley—all with driverless equipment.
"The question is: will we be ready? We must be, but equally we must not be afraid of doing things differently or taking calculated risks. We must have an open mind. Most importantly, we must encourage and support present and future generations who are eager to rise to the opportunities and challenges that we face in agriculture, fisheries and the rural economy."
Later, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, added: " We are world leading. The UK has substantial strengths to build on, including a number of world-class research institutes and universities. I say to my noble friend Lady Byford that I look forward to visiting Harper Adams next week.
"Through agritech and precision technology, the UK is developing ?innovative ways of optimising production and taking advantage of cutting-edge technology to identify weeds and diseases in crops. Farmers are increasingly engaged in this advance—in particular the next generations coming up. I find the next generation of farmers very enthusiastic about the prospects ahead. One of these challenges—referred to by my noble friend Lord Caithness, Lady Bloomfield and the noble Lord, Lord Curry—is the issue of soil health and fertility. This must be at the fore of our considerations."