In recognition of the prominence of technology in the future of British farming, Farm491, the AgriTech incubation hub in Cirencester, in collaboration with the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has launched an AgriTech Season – and the first two events have kicked off the season with great success.

The season, taking place February through to April, will consist of a series of conferences and workshops, with the focal 2-day event, ‘Agritech & The Future of British Farming’, culminating on the 4th & 5th April. The series of events will address topical and critical issues surrounding AgriTech and will assess its fundamental impact on the sustainability of British food and farming.

The first event, ‘How important is soil to food security, now and in the future’ took place on the 7th February and was organised by Masters Students at the RAU. Attracting a full house, the conference was highly interactive, informative and praised as a huge success.

“The Soil and Food Security Conference allowed us to discuss current challenges being faced in the food system, and how we can produce food more sustainably. It was really interesting to learn more about alternative food-growing methods, such as shipping container farms, which can produce 7 tonnes of vegetables a year per container.” Harriet Housam, studying MSc Agricultural Technology and Innovation at the RAU.

The soil conference was then followed by a second workshop, ‘Preparing Farming for Climate Change’ co-hosted by Farm491 member Russ Carrington from Pasture for Life.

AgriTech Season: Looking ahead to March and April

Following on from these two events, next up on the 19th March is the ‘BioVoices Motivation & Mutual Learning (MML) Workshop’, organised by Minerva and will take place at Farm491’s £4.2 million Alliston Centre. Invitees to the MML include start-ups and SMEs producing a range of AgriTech products, research and development opportunities working on AgriTech innovation, policy and best practice developers and regulators, plus NGOs representing interested civil society groups. March will also see a 2-day workshop, ‘Crossing the Chasm’ on the 28th and 29th March.

A busy AgriTech Season will come to a close in April with the Insect Conference on the 2nd and 3rd  co-organised by Farm491 member, Multibox. The first day will address insects for animal consumption and day two will focus on human consumption. The season will end on a high with ‘AgriTech and the Future of British Farming’ on the 4th and 5th April. This is the showcase event, held at Farm491’s Harnhill Workshops and RAU Rural Innovation Centre in Cirencester. The event will feature commercial tech showcases, industry debates, on-farm demonstrations and much more. The event will explore the potential implications of new technologies such as robotics, sensors, digital platforms, indoor farming and innovative integrated systems responding to current on-farm challenges. This is an open event and delegates can purchase tickets for £5 each.

Verity Payne, Centre and Events Manager, Farm491, said; “Agriculture is amid a digital revolution. The industry is facing several uncertainties, and now really is a vital moment in time for the future of British farming. We feel technology has a critical role to play. By supporting agri-business entrepreneurship and helping to develop new skills, agritech will help to convert agricultural innovation into commercial success and profit. Incubation hubs such as Farm491 who assist with business growth, idea development and provide crucial mentoring, academic knowledge, practical working space and expert guidance, will be hugely beneficial in facilitating this new wave of farming entrepreneurship for a sustainable future.”

Verity adds; “We have decided to establish an AgriTech Season this year as a platform to showcase the essential role that technology has to play. The season is about sharing knowledge, addressing key issues and attracting a diverse audience with a common interest in AgriTech. The first two events have been extremely popular, and we look forward to completing the season throughout March and April.”