Collaboration is key for agri-tech

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Collaboration is critical between businesses, experts and farmers if agri-tech is to be successfully adopted, which will be a key topic at the South West AgriTech Showcase.

The agricultural sector is currently being asked to help with climate change by adopting re-wilding, organic or regenerative farming techniques while producing high-quality, low-cost food to help with the cost-of-living crisis. And the AgriTech Showcase – which is just over a week away – aims to help farmers navigate these issues, as well as assist with forward planning.

“Agriculture is also under pressure from cheap imports and a confusing export market,” says Russell Frith, inward investment manager at Wiltshire Council, which is partnering with the event. “At the same time, innovations for the agricultural sector are being brought to market so rapidly it is hard to keep up, with some describing it as ‘the fourth agricultural revolution’.”

Attendees will hear from farmers actively engaging in agri-tech, like Oliver Lee, the owner of How Now Dairy, the first carbon negative dairy. Arable farmer turned inventor Charles Quick will also be speaking about CSEQ Technologies, which he is developing alongside the Satellite Applications Catapult to make precision technology affordable for every farmer.

“Autosteer systems have historically been extremely expensive, and out of reach to all but the largest farms,” says Mr Quick. “We are building an earth-shatteringly cheap autosteer system and RTK correction service, with no compromises in functionality. We will outline our plan to bring precision farming within the reach of all farmers, everywhere.”

The Showcase offers the perfect place for those across the agri-tech industry to collaborate and discuss the latest developments. “This conference is crucial for our region as it serves as a platform for fostering innovation, collaboration, and growth in the agricultural technology sector,” says Cecilia Bufton, Dorset LEP Chair.

“By bringing together stakeholders, entrepreneurs and experts we aim to drive forward advancements which not only benefit our local economy but also contribute to sustainable agricultural practices on a global scale.”

And the event offers a unique opportunity for visitors to see what agri-tech has to offer for the industry. “The event presents the industry in real time, and those who attend will gain an understanding of working in the sector and the opportunities it has to offer,” says Hattie Winter at Somerset Council. “Agri-tech is an important and growing sector for our economy.”

Looking to the future, attendees can find out what solutions could be available from the space sector in the Marketplace. “Invest Bristol and Bath will be joining forces with Space West, a regional consortium of academic and industry partners designed to accelerate growth and innovation in the space sector,” explains Antony Merritt, head of enterprise, inward investment and trade at West of England Combined Authority.

“We are enthusiastic to be presenting the Showcase with solutions from the space sector, like satellite applications, environmental monitoring and data analytics.”

The West of England Combined Authority will also be on hand to highlight other innovative solutions. “This event will spotlight cutting-edge research, development, and technology in agriculture, showcasing our commitment to a sustainable future,” says Stephen Bashford, strategic director of economy and skills.

“We need to harness our collective strengths and highlight innovative solutions from local businesses like Map Impact and MyOxygen. Together, we’re pioneering agricultural technology that’s setting the standard for the nation.”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, says: “Last year’s South West AgriTech Showcase was a huge success so we’re pleased to be part of the event again this year.

“The County Council is committed to farming in the county, and we recognise how vital technology is for its future, which is why we’ve encouraged technological innovations through initiatives like the Devon Agri-Tech Alliance (DATA) project and our Future Farming Resilience Project,” he adds.

“The amount of agri-tech being researched and developed in the region is increasing, so this showcase event is a great way for farmers, landowners and those in the agri-tech sector to gather and discuss future opportunities.”

And Gloucestershire LEP is working with the Gloucestershire Agri-tech Partnership to ensure businesses and agricultural producers have help to develop and bring to market technologies that are fit for purpose to help deliver sustainable and bio-diverse food security. “The South West not only has that strong legacy of agriculture but benefits from critical partners, research and innovative thinking to help address and deliver some of these challenges,” says Dev Chakraborty, deputy CEO at GFirst LEP.

In the South, Cornwall Council has also turned its attention to meeting the needs of future consumers. “Now more than ever we need to support primary producers and agri-tech innovators, to ensure the needs of the population can be met in the years to come,” says Nicola Lloyd, director of trade and investment at Cornwall Council. “This event is a fantastic example of how, through collaboration, the region is doing just this.”

All the advancements in the agri-tech sector are underpinned by successful collaboration between the developers and farmers, says Joanna Rufus, chair of South West AgriTech. “The sharing of disruptive technology among the leading advanced engineering key sectors of the South West was always a goal of South West AgriTech, and to benefit the sector in taking advantage of sectors like maritime, defence and aerospace.”