A common theme has emerged from the events and meetings that I have attended over the last few months in East Anglia – technology. This has been technology of all shapes and sizes, on land and in the air, in genes and the development of new products and machinery.
When we are looking at a description of technology, this one captures the sentiment well:
“Technology (“science of craft”, from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia) is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation.”
Some agricultural technologies certainly take cunning hands to get the best results from them, but many are based on science and do enable us to accomplish our objectives, often in a more efficient manner.
New technologies in farming abound – take the first trial in the UK of the Australian chaff deck system that is looking like it could be a new cultural control method for the management of grass-weeds on-farm. There are also the new actives and formulations for broad-leaved weed control, when the cultural control methods may not be as successful.
However, some new technologies are further away from these in terms of development and production. Here are some fascinating advances coming our way soon…
Several local drone companies showcased their innovations and developments at a recent session led by Agri-Tech East and Smart AKIS. Wow, what results and enthusiasm this created! Drones already can:
- produce black-grass maps
- create fertiliser plans from fly-overs
- illustrate pre-symptomatic detection of yellow rust and septoria
- visualise 3D terrain modelling
- map and measure your cross compliance margins, strips and EFA areas
- and much more…
It looks like there is a drone and piece of technology to convert whatever you can imagine to investigate into data and knowledge. This technology has the power to develop our industry fast.
Where would you like this technology to develop? Are there areas that you would like us, as AHDB, to encourage or push? At the meeting it was stated that approximately 35% of farmers in the UK are now using RTK after eight or ten years of it being introduced. What technology might be the next big step? Will drones be the next technological advance to further enable effective farm business decision-making?
If you’ve got any thoughts, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below the blog.
Plant breeding technologies
The scientists at John Innes Centre recently held an open day to showcase their incredible, in-depth work on a whole variety of aspects of plant breeding from using genome editing to decrease pod shatter to looking for traits in wheat varieties that are expressed in a drought situation. One influential example was a researcher looking at speed breeding wheat so that, in a controlled environment (22 hours of light at 22°C and 2 hours of night at 17°C) , they can achieve heading in half the time and still with 85% of seeds viable. This means that they can speed up the plant breeding of generations of varieties to find improved traits for us to grow.
Other groups of researchers are looking at resistant starch with the aim to reduce the amount of calories in wheat-based food and looking for yield benefits in land races dating back to the 1920’s from over 30 countries.
How will this work will impact on us on-farm? It may take many years for these developments and technologies to make a difference to what we are doing. Yet, it is reassuring and fascinating that this innovation in new technologies is taking place. It is all of our responsibility to ensure that the loop is as closed as possible so that tangible results can be felt.