Cambridge-based crop research and innovation centre NIAB has welcomed today’s publication of the UK Agricultural Technologies Strategy as a clear signal that Government is committed to unlocking the economic and productive potential of the UK agri-science base, and to supporting a resilient, hi-tech and globally competitive UK farming sector.
NIAB chief executive Dr Tina Barsby, a member of the Agri-Tech Leadership Council, said the challenge of ‘sustainable intensification’ was driving a renewed focus on applied research and innovation at the farm-level, from improvements in crop genetics and advanced agronomy to rapid advances in precision engineering and agricultural informatics.
“The Strategy sends a clear signal that agriculture is a key sector of the national economy and that the UK has the potential and ambition to become a global leader once again in the agri-tech sector. Despite tight constraints on public expenditure the Strategy allocates new funding streams to support translational research with impact and to promote closer collaboration and co-investment with industry,” said Dr Barsby.
“The creation of a new Centre for Agricultural Informatics also highlights the over-arching need for standardised metrics and proper integration of farm-level data to benchmark and monitor progress in sustainable intensification over time, and the opportunity for the UK to take a global lead in this rapidly advancing field.
“The launch of the Strategy sets a clear vision to build on existing strengths, to improve collaboration between public and private sector, and to exploit our competitive advantage at a global level to drive technology-based exports and attract inward investment.
“Now the agri-tech sector, from lab to field, must step up to the plate, integrated closely with the rest of the supply chain.
“The call for evidence and establishment of an Agri-Tech Leadership Council have already catalysed a great deal of activity and collective thinking – along the length of the R&D pipeline - to help unlock our agri-innovation potential. The Agri-Tech Strategy provides the framework and financial support to co-ordinate and accelerate that process. This is indeed a milestone bringing together industry, Government and the science base to drive an exciting new phase of innovation and global leadership within the UK agri-tech sector,” concluded Dr Barsby.