Despite the unseasonal spring weather, the seeds are sown for a bright future for farming. We've had exciting news on both the funding and the technology side (more details coming soon), and our robot Harry is getting set for commercial trials this planting season. The next planting on our farm will be digital.
#Februdairy has been bittersweet. A wonderful positive movement celebrating British farming and dairy products. But triggering some aggressive, upsetting and even downright nasty commentary from the more fundamentalist vegan fringe.
And then a heartfelt and heart-warming response from the farming community. Summing up: "Why can't they understand that we are trying our very best, what it's really like at the coalface, the harsh realities, how hard we work, and that most of us really do care, very much, about our animals and our environment?" It's often relentless, thankless, with little profit, and sadly for some of us it exacts a crippling mental toll. But for all that, it's worth it. It's not just a job; it's our passion. Our vocation.
Most farmers want to be stewards of the environment; unfortunately too many consumers don't believe this. The disconnect from farming is pervasive. As we all know, too many consumers are insulated from the countryside. This is compounded by misinformation, conflicting science, irresponsible food marketing, political posturing and periodic food chain scandals.
Working on the farm, I'd love consumers to believe their food is safe. But fear, uncertainty and doubt around food and food production is rife. And the reality is that consumers are worried about contamination of the human foodchain.
Then also there's tension within our farming community itself. Next-genners, no-tillers and organic versus mainstream traditional farming. However at heart we are all fighting the same battle: balancing the differing requirements on the farm of profit, yield, and the environment. Problems which have been endemic in farming for years.
But despite all that, we’re filled with hope for the future. Agri-tech robotics heralds a new dawn for farming. We believe it has the potential to solve all of these problems.
It will be transformational for profit, yield, and farm management. It can increase revenues by up to 40%, reduce costs by up to 60%. Meaning farming will no longer be reliant on subsidies.
Most importantly, agritech robotics will almost entirely remove the worries around the application of chemicals on our food. Farms that use robotics will see up to 95% reduction in chemical use. Within 10 years, consumer concerns could be over. Our bread - and our bees - will be safe.
Digital farming could also bring about a rapprochement with consumers.
I anticipate that over time we will also see robotics used to help establish consumer trust over issues such as provenance, traceability, and environmental impact. Plus time to diversify to higher value products will create direct connections.
Not to mention job creation and rural resurgence.
It's World Wildlife Day. A good time to spread some peace and love. Working together, we can make a bright future for farming, for our food, and for our planet. And our bees.