Innovation under the spotlight at Cereals LIVE 2020

By 28th April 2020News

Innovation is the key to agricultural efficiencies and productivity, and Cereals LIVE will be bringing new technologies to farmers through its online seminar programme.

For the first time ever, Cereals will be delivering all of its content online, on 10-11 June, bringing headline speakers into farmers’ homes. The DIT Innovation and technology theatre will be focussing on how the latest developments and advice can help producers to create more from less, boosting productivity with the most cutting-edge equipment and advice.

“Whether farmers are looking to know more about data driven innovation, precision farming, plant breeding developments or sustainable crop health, Cereals Live has a range of webinars lined-up in its DIT theatre to inform and enlighten,” says event director Alli McEntyre.

Agri-tech can help farmers produce more in a sustainable way, with less impact on the environment, explains Elizabeth Warham, agri-tech lead at the Department for International Trade (DIT). “In the UK, academia and research centres work closely with agri-tech companies using scientific breakthroughs in nutrition, genetics, remote sensing, engineering, robotics and meteorology to develop and commercialise innovative technologies, with the potential to transform traditional agricultural practices.”

Seminar sessions (including some of the speakers below) will demonstrate how these cutting-edge developments are revolutionising modern farming.


Data and digital innovation

Data is of growing importance on farm, informing decision making and helping producers to focus on efficiencies. This session will include an insight from Matthew Smith, chief product officer at Agrimetrics, into how to get the most from data, the growing market for it and how valuable it is to agriculture.

Drones are increasingly being used to create usable data, as Jack Wrangham at DroneAg will demonstrate. Its new app, Skippy Scout, gives farmers an economical and simple solution to aid crop walking. “It can take farmers less than five minutes to download the app and have their drone going,” says Mr Wrangham.

“All farmers need to crop walk, but it can be time-consuming. However, using Skippy Scout the drone can fly to points in a field and take high resolution photos faster than they could walk – with images sent straight back to the user’s phone.”


Sustainable crop health

Crop health is always a priority for farmers and in this session they can explore how new technologies in crop disease and nutrient management could aid their business.

Looking at soil health will be Angela de Manzanos Guinot from Fungi Alert, explaining the importance of understanding the pathogens in your soil. Olmix’s Chris Gamble will consider the benefits of biostimulants and how they could become a more routine part of the crop health armoury.

And focusing on nutrition, Natalie Wood, Yara agronomist, will be highlighting the importance of micronutrients and having a strategy in place to manage costs. “Boron is always a key deficiency, while we also see zinc and magnesium deficiencies,” she says. “Just because they are called micro, they are no less important, they are just required in smaller quantities.”


Plant breeding innovations

Plant breeding technologies open up a whole world of opportunities for agriculture, in the form of hybridisation, gene-editing and sequencing to create more resilient, productive crops that can drive the future of arable farming.

With speakers including Kim Hammond-Kosack at Rothamsted Research and James Brosnan, chairman of the International Barley Hub, this session will reveal how plant breeding will deliver resistance to pests and disease and how it can address issues of resilience and climate change.


Precision farming

Already a major asset for many UK arable farmers, precision farming is progressing in leaps and bounds. Jonathan Gill at Harper Adams will provide an update on the Hands Free Farm, giving an insight into the cutting edge of autonomous farming.

When it comes to current solutions, tackling weeds is a continual bane for farmers; although mechanical weeding technologies have been developing for the past three decades, Nick Tillett at Tillett and Hague Technology will explore how they are being utilised to progress spot spraying tools. “We have managed to make the technology work, but it’s expensive, so we need to work with manufacturers, growers, agronomists and chemical companies to make the technology more cost-effective.”


Applying precision technology

In this session, farmers will be able to see how precision farming techniques apply in practice. Michael Haverty at the Anderson Centre will explain the impact of precision farming on profits at its Loam model farm, while Professor James Lowenberg-DeBoer from Harper Adams University will look at the financial and practical considerations of investing in crop robots. This session aims to answer the practical questions posed by the advancing technology.


Farmer-led innovations

Many of the best innovations come from farmers and this session will not only explore some of those, but will also look at research and answers emerging from them.

Mike Donovan, editor of Practical Farm Ideas, will pick his top farmer inventions over the past decade. In addition, Liz Bowles, associate director at the Soil Association, will describe the impact of the work in their farmer ‘field labs’ and Daniel Kindred at ADAS will be discussing the key effects for farmers emerging from its farming innovation groups.

“Innovations and technology are advancing incredibly fast, so keeping abreast of the latest information isn’t always straightforward,” says Ms McEntyre. “With the DIT theatre, the aim is for farmers to find out the latest information, while also coming away with valuable answers to many of the questions they have about this quickly changing environment.”


Cereals LIVE will be held online on 10-11 June 2020. For more information click here