13 February 2016 | Online since 2003

Future of farming 50 percent more food with less land



Future of farming: '50 percent more food with less land'


The future of farming needs a 'united approach from government, researchers and industry' in developing new technologies, if it is to meet challenges of the next two decades, a leading scientist has warned.
Professor Chris Pollock CBE, who led a study for four UK farming industry organisations, has recommended seven crucial research priorities for the future of food production in the UK.
The findings of the study were revealed at the Institute of Agricultural Management's national conference in London today.
“Ever since Malthus, concern has been expressed regarding the capacity of agriculture to feed an ever-increasing population,” said Prof Pollock.
“In the first half of this century we will be part of a global food network that has to produce 50 per cent more food with less available land. This work has been about what the industry said it needed, and how it could play its part in this global challenge.”
The report recommends:

A programme of long-term strategic and applied research

Using modern technologies to improve precision and efficiency of agricultural management practices, like genetic and breeding programmes to increase productivity

A united approach from government, research councils and producer groups to research and development, where primary producers are involved at a high level.

Work to maintain major scientific research while identifying missing skills and knowledge - and taking steps to replace them

Government departments working together on issues which affect land use

The study was commissioned by the NFU, the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board and the Agricultural Industries Confederation, and supported by the Technology Strategy Board.

Professor Pollock added: “We need to fund programmes for longer-term, applied research that links different sectors of industry.

“Food producers have tended in recent years to deal with today’s problems. If we want to shift the research agenda to deliver for 2030, we need to make sure that primary producers work together and with the funders of more basic research.”

NFU Vice President Adam Quinney said: “This report marks the transition from talking to action. Its strength is in presenting a united message from all sectors of agriculture and horticulture, by outlining the industry’s views on priorities for research and technology needed to meet the key food production challenges raised by the Foresight report.
“Crucially, it will require buy-in from across the industry to ensure it gains momentum and achieves real change. The NFU is committed to working with farmers and growers to enable the use of innovation and knowledge exchange to benefit their businesses sustainably.”

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