How data-driven agriculture will transform food production

This episode will focus on data-driven agriculture and its potential to transform the ecosystem. With an extra 2.5bn of the population to feed by 2050, and grappling with increasing land degradation and water stress, set in the context of the climate challenge, we explore how data-driven agriculture can become more efficient whilst being better for environment and the economy.

Data for and from farmers has become a growth area, driving expectations and investments in big data, blockchain, technology and precision agriculture. With new sources of information such as satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles and mobile weather stations providing mountains of data, how can farmers get value from this mass of intelligence? And what are the challenges to implementation?

About our panel

Calum Murray, Head of Agriculture and Food, Innovate UK

Calum is currently Head of Agriculture and Food at Innovate UK. He has led substantial publicly funded programmes for applied research in the agrifood sector and sat on the X Whitehall Group that delivered the 2013 AgriTech Strategy. He was an Interim Challenge Director during 2018 jointly responsible for establishing the £90m Industrial Strategy Transforming Food Production Challenge. Calum currently sits on Defra’s external R&D panel, and the Agricultural Productivity Working Group within the Food and Drink Sector Council structure.

Calum studied agriculture at Aberdeen University, started his career with the Ministry of Agriculture 1982 (ADAS) moving to David Anderson & Co in ‘85/86 then back north to SRUC in 1989. In 1995 he was appointed by Bank of Scotland as national agricultural specialist. Calum joined Innovate UK in Feb 2010.

Dr Louise Sutherland, Director, Ceres Agri-Tech

Louise Sutherland is Director of the Ceres Agri-Tech Knowledge Exchange Partnership, a joint collaboration between five world-leading UK universities and three of the country’s top agricultural research institutes. Ceres provides funding and expertise to accelerate the commercialisation of agri-tech research coming out of its partner universities, ensuring that high-quality agricultural innovation is translated from lab to field. Louise’s extensive agri-tech credentials include chairing the Raspberry Breeding Consortium (a joint research and industry partnership) at James Hutton Ltd., as well as previously chairing both the AHDB Soft Fruit Research Panel and the Red Tractor Fresh Produce Scheme. Louise has also been a member of the AHDB Horticulture Board and the Assured Food Standards Board. She has over a decade’s experience working at Marks & Spencer, holding a variety of technical and commercial roles across their food business. Louise has a PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Reading and worked on novel biocontrol systems for tree diseases during her time as a researcher at the Forestry Commission.

Find Ceres Agri-Tech on social media:
LinkedIn: @ceresagritech
Twitter: @AgritechCeres

Dave Ross, Chief Executive Officer, Agri-EPI Centre Ltd

Dave Ross (BSc Hons, PDip, AMIMechE, AIAgrE, FRAgS) is Chief Executive Officer of Agri-EPI Centre Ltd, one of the four UK Centres of Agricultural Innovation, with a specific focus on Precision technologies and engineered solutions. He is responsible for leading development of the Centre, both nationally and internationally. A trained engineer, Dave started his career in the defence technology sector, designing electro-optic systems. He moved to agricultural engineering and technology in 1990, taking the opportunity to move back to his roots (having been brought up on a mixed/dairy farm). He worked for more than 25 work as a Senior Research Engineer with Scotland’s Rural College, originally focusing on systems for crop monitoring and handling and post-harvest quality. More recently he has focused on livestock-related technologies. He has been involved in the research and development of several novel and patented developments across the agricultural production sectors. Some of these have been fully commercialised, and he has assisted with aligned spin-out and new company formations.

Emily Norton, Head of Rural Research, Savills

Emily heads up the Savills UK Limited Rural Research team, guiding the creation of insight and analysis into rural policy, data and benchmarking for Savills and its clients across the U.K. She consults for clients and government on rural policy and corporate strategy, with a particular focus on rural asset investment and strategic sustainability and climate response. Emily is a director of the Oxford Farming Conference for 2021-2023 and a Nuffield Scholar 2018.

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