What will farming look like in the year 2030?
The Innovation Hub at the Royal Norfolk Show creates an opportunity for members of Agri-Tech East to showcase emerging technologies.
We asked them to look ahead ten years to identify the drivers for change and the technologies needed to address them.
Vicky Foster, Head of BBRO
“As we reduce our reliance on chemistry we will need to look towards the use of biological control on a large scale and also increased use of risk management and forecasting tools as part of an integrated approach to help make agronomy decisions on-farm.”
BBRO will be showing how soil can be visualised in three dimensions to help growers understand the way plants interacts with the soil.
To support alternative pest management options, BBRO has introduced a novel infield aphid monitoring and testing system supported by web-based reporting. It will also demonstrate how the risk of virus transmission can now be mapped across the whole of the UK sugar beet growing region.
Tony Peloe, International Sales Manager at Delta-T
“We’ve seen the increasing adoption of sensors and drones; the next step is integrating their data into ‘Smart Farming’ frameworks which will enable farmers to maintain yields while reducing inputs and improving biodiversity.
“If the Agriculture Bill is adopted with its emphasis on ‘public good’ farms will need to make the tricky transition to an agroecology approach while maintaining yields. This will require new policies and practices backed up by sound science and networks of sensors and farm management applications that incorporate artificial intelligence.”
Delta-T will be demonstrating the benefits of current soil sensors and profiling systems that support canopy analysis. Communications between sensors and with farm systems is increasingly important and the latest dashboard offering will show how this is achieved.
Jack Wrangham, Director of DroneAG
“We see a future where automated machinery will work collaboratively. For example imaging from drones will be used to direct sprayers to target specific areas of the field at exactly the right time, reducing costs and chemical use and minimising soil damage.”
DroneAG will be showing its range of drones and how AI can be used to extract insights from raw data.
David Aarons, CTO & Co-Founder of enLight
“We see the future as the connected farm. Currently, agricultural data is collected and monitored using many different, disparate systems. Each one has its own login and password. enLight’s vision of the future farm brings all this together, connecting existing data sources, trackers and legacy assets horizontally.
“From water quality monitoring to animal tracking to soil pH, as well as vehicle tracking, pumping systems and light levels, all of it will be in one place. In addition, the system itself can make decisions when necessary. For example, if there’s a problem overnight or during a busy period and farm personnel aren’t able to monitor the dashboard, or as a reaction to an unexpected turn in the weather, instant changes can be made that may save water, energy… or even a crop”.
“Future farms will allow agriculture professionals to see all their data streams in one place, on one dashboard, collected using cost-effective Internet of Things radio networks. And while the single dashboard will revolutionise agriculture, we’ve also learned that technology is ever evolving, so by 2030 we might well be seeing additional developments coming into the farming world.”
enLight will be demonstrating a live feed from Honingham Thorpe Farms, a very large Norfolk-based contract farming company, managing land up to 30 miles away from its central office. To show how real-time data can effectively be collected and displayed to assist remote management.
Sensors in action on the dashboard will include: water levels, bird scarer, power monitoring and grain store monitoring.
Jonathan Gill, Mechatronics Researcher and UAV Pilot at Harper Adams University
“In response to increased pressure to reduce chemical usage, there are now fewer chemicals to choose from. This has been a massive challenge but more precise sprayers are finally coming to market and chemical free techniques are coming back, such as automated mechanical hoeing. The growing trend of automated vehicles and spray drones is attempting to further reduce chemical usage, compaction and human labour. Unfortunately, legislation and regulations are currently not able to keep up with the technological advancements.”
Harper Adams will be discussing the AirPod drone, a delivery system with the capability of carrying a cargo for ‘last mile delivery’.
Dr Gavin Lishman, Managing Director of Martin Lishman
“Reducing food waste must be a priority. 1.3bn tons of food are wasted globally each year, with almost 60% of crops spoilt, damaged or wasted during post-harvest operations. Climate change will increase the vulnerability of stored food to insect damage.”
Martin Lishman will be discussing its Pile-Dry and FloorVent Pedestal crop cooling systems that offer faster cooling at less energy cost. Also ImpacTrack is a new, low-cost data logger that replicates the movement characteristics of fruit and vegetables prone to damage and bruising during handling and transport.
Prodata will be demonstrating environmental monitoring solutions Weather Stations and in field crop monitoring that offer affordable and cost-effective monitoring solutions suitable for small growers through to multi-national corporations.
Angie Curtis, Sales Director at Roboscientific Limited
“I believe farming will be on a much bigger scale, possibly managed remotely as monitoring becomes an intrinsic part of farming. Much of this will be automated and controlled using AI and remote oversight to identify precursors to disease and alert the farmer to deliver the appropriate intervention fast
“Through improved prediction it will be possible to introduce preventative measures rather than trying to find cures. I am hopeful that this will reduce antibiotic resistance, drive an increase in quality as well as a reduction in wastage currently caused by diseases and infestations.
Roboscientific will be demonstrating detection systems that use the Volatile Organic Compounds given off by animals infected with diseases to provide early warning of Campylobacter, Ecoli and Clostrideum Perfringens infections.
Frederick South, UK Business Development Manager at Sencrop
“New regulation and environmental schemes will mean that environmental monitoring will be increasingly important to ensure compliance. It will help farms become more efficient and at the same time will help keep tabs on how the environment is being impacted.”
Sencrop will be showing two connected weather stations: Raincrop, a rain gauge that measures temperature, humidity, and rainfall; and Windcrop, an anemometer, measuring wind speed and direction. Both weather stations send data to a smartphone application.
Dr Brian Reid, Reader in the School of Environmental Sciences and Associate Dean for Innovation and Engagement for the Faculty of Science at UEA
“’We borrow the land from our children’ and opportunities exist to create future farming systems and landscapes where food production and environmental aspirations are realised in parallel. The building of soil carbon stocks, through sympathetic land management practices will be pivotal in sustaining gains for soil health, improving soil biodiversity and supporting enhanced delivery of soil ecosystem services such as food production, flood mitigation, water filtration and climate regulation.”
UEA is to showcase WeedingTech – a novel herbicide-free solution that uses a biodegradable foam from natural plant oils to suppress weeds.
Prof Tracy Lawson, the University of Essex (UoE) Plant Productivity Group
“There are a number of considerations that are likely to influence developments: changing diets, employment, labour availability and cost, water availability, land use and ownership concentration. However, farms are likely to be less resource-intensive following improvements in management practices and varieties, and for greater demand to support ecosystem services as part of a drive for sustainability.
“This is being supported by the ‘democratisation’ of technology through cloud-based systems which also allow smaller farmers to make use of advanced systems.”
UoE is looking to increase ‘crop per drop’ by looking at the relationship between plant phenotype (crop variety), water use and yield. They will demonstrate how manipulating the environment has direct impacts on plant behaviour such as visualising chlorophyll fluorescence as an indicator of photosynthesis and thermal imaging to show transpiration.