What the future holds

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Lifting their heads from the immediate issues facing the agricultural industry, a group of farming leaders have published what they see as be the main research priorities for the next two decades.

These include the utilisation of modern technologies to improve the precision and efficiency of key agricultural management practices and the application of modern genetic and breeding approaches to improve the quality, sustainability, resilience and yield-led profitability of crops and farm animals.

Integrated management to control pests and diseases with farming systems also features highly in the main target areas of research work needed to take the industry forward. The extension of training and professional development for researchers and advisers topromote the delivery of the targets is also seen as critical to future food production.

Lincolnshire farmer Jim Godfrey, the initiator of the Feeding the Future document, claimed it was the first time that UK primary producers had come together to identify their long-term research and development priorities for the next 20 years.

He said the document would help inform both government and research funding bodies of the priorities for farmers.

NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller, who was also involved in producing the document, said that looking 20 years ahead into an era when food security and climate change would be pressing priorities showed that scientific and technological progress would be vital if farmers were to meet the challenges of securing production.

“Investment in the right R&D will open the door to the levels of precision that will be needed at farm level to drive both output and carbon efficiency,” he said

ANDREW ARBUCKLE