As rain stops play again, predictive weather forecasts and improved sensor technologies are two of the developments Richard Anscombe – the new chair of the Agri-Tech East Stakeholder Group – would like to see in the near future.
Anscombe, Chief Executive of Fram Farmers, a leading UK farmer-owned cooperative for purchasing and grain marketing, is a great believer in innovation and was delighted to accept the position of chair for Agri-Tech East.
Anscombe comments: “I was delighted to be asked to chair the Agri-Tech East Stakeholder Group. I have a lot of respect for what Dr Belinda Clarke [Director of Agri-Tech East] has achieved and for the calibre of the team that she has brought together.”
“Agri-Tech East is good at linking up the many and varied players, from research through to on-farm practices and all points in between,” he explains. “Seeing great research commercialised and put into practical use is both exciting and rewarding, especially with the pace of change of technology and innovation in our sector and the challenges for on-farm profitability post-Brexit. The East of England has all the key elements in place to lead the way!”
Boosting the harvest result
In particular he believes that advancements in weather prediction would support regional farmers and comments: “Wet weather has made for a stop-start harvest, effecting wheat qualities over recent days [mid to late August]. Although the picture is better than many had feared back in May when we looked down the barrel of a too-dry growing period and were worried about significant crop failures.
“Rains came at the right time, but have hindered harvest. Although many would have taken this harvest outcome as it is better than at the most worrying times in the late Spring.”
“Weather prediction is a key area for investment, helping farmers to predict near-term weather more accurately and alter immediate planting/harvesting plans as a direct result of high quality, predictable weather data would be beneficial,” says Anscombe.
Fram Farmers has over 50 years of experience and is the purchasing, grain marketing and administrative function of 1400 farming businesses across the UK.
“An important part of Fram Farmers’ remit is to make our members aware of new technology that can be deployed practically on-farm,” says Anscombe. “Agri-Tech East is and will continue to be a go-to place for our members to understand how their businesses can benefit from deploying new technology.”
“In the future, the pace of technology will never be slower than it is today! A sobering thought perhaps, but an exciting one too when we consider the very real and practical benefits that technology advancement is bringing to our sector. Minimum tillage and Controlled Traffic Farming is one example.
“The emergence of sensor technology, robotics and advancements in predictive weather are examples of where our sector will continue its technological evolution, a process that Agri-Tech East adds value to now and will continue to in the future.”
Agri-Tech East is the UK’s first and largest membership organisation for agri-tech, bringing together businesses and academia across different disciplines to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability of agriculture and horticulture.
Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East says: “We are grateful to have a strong depth of experience at the helm of the Agri-Tech East Stakeholder Group. I look forward to working with Richard, accelerating innovation and entrepreneurship in agri-tech.”
The Agri-Tech East Stakeholder Group comprises of leaders in the industry, including Vice Chair Poul Hoveson, Director of Farming at Holkham Farming Company, Dr Tina Barsby of NIAB, Dr Julian Little of Bayer CropScience and Calum Murray of Innovate UK. To read more about the Stakeholder Group, click here.