Shropshire Farming Talk: Technology

Amid the challenging times faced by farmers, it is easy to lose sight of the rapid changes in technology which have impacted our industry and will continue to lead the way forward.

The pace of innovation is disrupting traditional ways of working in farming, just as it is in every other line of work but the bigger picture shows tech could bring improvements.

In her recent speech at NFU Conference 2023, President Minette Batters highlighted the “opportunities we now have to deliver a step change in the productivity of UK agriculture through the application of science into practice”.

At Bradford Estates we are ensuring we use tech in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

One of our values as a business is to be inventive, guided by our heritage, knowledge and a commitment to doing things the right way, as we seek to develop practices that make the way of life here better.

As part of this we are building relationships for the future, with partners such as the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation (Agri-EPI) Centre at Harper Adams University.

It is fantastic to be able to work with the team at a world-leading centre for excellence in engineering and precision agriculture, which was set up to benefit the livestock, arable, aquaculture and horticulture sectors.

We are working together on ideas on how to implement innovative ideas on arable and livestock farming, particularly around sustainability and net zero.

If we can trial tech at Bradford Estates through working with the Agri-EPI team we hope it will be a springboard for start-up tech companies who can trial their innovations in a commercial environment.

In our fields we are already using a droid which uses GPS to know exactly where it plants each wildflower seed so it can return periodically to hoe around and prevent weeds.

We also have solar panels in place to power our seed processing equipment, using alternative energy sources as part of our processes.

All of these projects involve recording and analysing data, which will play an increasing part in the modern farm. We would like to build more partnerships to see how technology can play a bigger part in farming crops and livestock.

With more than 40% of farms relying on subsidies which are being phased out under changes to our industry by the Government, using technology could make the difference for many farms to be profitable.

Working in our industry is a long term game, with focus generally front loaded on the immediate or mid-term impact.

Looking further ahead and being prepared to experiment to learn from the tech becoming available will ensure we capitalise on every opportunity ahead.

Oliver Scott for the Shropshire Star