Yesterday (2 July 2019), Dr Pete Berry, head of crop physiology at ADAS was at the Palace of Westminster to speak at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture.
The Group is an important debate forum for UK politicians and agricultural stakeholders with the aim of recognising agricultural science innovation and identifying any policy, knowledge-based or regulatory barriers to its development and application. The theme for this particular session was the importance of delivering future productivity growth in British agriculture and the critical role of science and technology to that process.
The Group took place at a time when British farming is facing the most significant policy overhaul in 40 years with the consequences of Brexit potentially meaning increased competition. Driving improvements in productivity is the defining challenge for farmers who also must contend with the pressures of climate change, environmental protection and resource conservation. The government has made strong commitments to support improved productivity in UK agriculture and this forum gives politicians the opportunity to hear about work already taking place, as well as what more needs to be done to drive growth.
Joining Dr Berry was Sir Peter Kendall, an arable farmer, chair of AHDB and the Agricultural Productivity Working Group and former NFU President. Alex Waugh Director General of Nabim, the trade association representing UK flour millers completed the panel.
Dr Berry’s talk focused on crop yield potential. UK yield potential is very high however this potential isn’t being fully realised with yields increasing slowly or not at all. Programmes such as the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) have been successful in allowing farmers, researchers and advisors to come together, share ideas, develop new approaches for improving productivity, benchmark crop performance and understand yield constraints. However for greater progress to be made, we need to further support farmer-led innovation (such as through Agronomics), expand metrics to include sustainability considerations, empower farmers to carry out their own on-farm testing to optimise crop management for individual farms, and increase farmer engagement so improvements can happen on a much wider scale.
For more information on YEN, please see the YEN website.
For more information on Agronomics, see the Agronomics ADAS webpage.
To discuss any of the above in more detail, contact Pete Berry