The technical challenges of feeding a growing world population from less land is a key focus for over 400 delegates gathering in Edinburgh this week for a major conference.
Researchers and industry representatives from across the world are attending the prestigious European Conference on Precision Agriculture – known as ECPA 2017 – which opened today (Monday 17 July 2017).
They will discuss how global issues like diminishing resources and the serious concerns about the environment and climate change will affect future food supplies.
Academics and industry experts will spell out that new technologies – like robotics, sensors and artificial intelligence – informed by the data generated from crop, soil and livestock systems, offer revolutionary solutions to some fundamental food production issues.
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is the lead academic host for the event. Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive welcomed delegates to Edinburgh – saying this was a “pivotal” event coming at what was an “extremely exciting and vital time” for precision agriculture. He said that it was a sector with “real potential” for the future.
Dr Tony Waterhouse, one of the main organisers, told delegates: “Precision agriculture is in use across the world. At this conference experts from the Americas, Australasia, Europe and China will be explaining developments in the use of sensors and other technologies in vinyards, mountain pastures and intensive cropping systems both tropical and temperate.
“We will all be learning far more precise and efficient ways to grow livestock and crops without using so many pesticides, wasting nutrients or damaging vital soils.”
The four day ECPA2017 event – based in the John McIntyre Conference Centre at the University of Edinburgh’s Pollock Halls complex – combines keynote sessions with workshops.
Apart from SRUC, the conference has been organised by representatives from The James Hutton Institute, SoilEssentials, BSAS (British Society of Animal Science), and Newcastle University.
Tony Waterhouse added: “One of the key messages to emerge from the conference will be that making progress requires partnerships and collaborations. Scotland is playing its part as staff from SRUC, the James Hutton Institute, the Moredun Research Institute and others will explain to delegates.
“Speakers will stress that in the case of precision agriculture, the links between academia and industry and between research and practice are absolutely critical.
“It is highly significant that there are almost as many representatives from industry attending ECPA2017 as academics. It shows this is a sector with real potential.”
The conference has support from the UK Governments AgriTech Initiatives which link industry with research – including Agri-Epi and AgriMetrics, the Department for International Trade, SOYL, Agrisat, Greentronics, PESSL Instruments, Next Instruments, CENSIS, ForceA, Satellite Applications, Catapult, Immarsat, CASE-NH, Micasense, Geometrix, Trimble and Delta-T Devices.
For more details of the ECPA Conference go to www.ecpa2017.com