A more technological approach to farming is crucial for meeting the needs of an extra 2.4 billion extra people who are expected to swell the world’s population by 2050, according to a new EU report.
Yet significant obstacles are preventing widespread use of automotive technology on farms that otherwise have the potential to vastly improve precision and efficiency, the report warns.
Such technology – known as ‘precision farming’ when used on the farm – is essential to achieving sustainable agriculture, author Anthea McIntyre says.
Her draft report, prepared for the European Commission’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, says that the unreliability and lack of adaptability to smaller farmland of the technology, as well as high costs involved in its development, is holding farming back.
Ms McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, says shrinking land availability, environmental loss, water shortages, increased energy demand and the emergence of new pests and diseases are placing considerable pressure on our natural environment.
She says that, as a result, farmers are finding it increasingly challenging to produce food in a sustainable way.
“Technological innovation is a vital part of the solution,” she says in the report. “Agricultural technologies, in particular, have the potential to make farming more productive and more sustainable.
She calls on industry, the European Commission and Member States to work together to improve the performance and adaptability of precision farming technology,
The UK Government said its Agri-Tech strategy had seen £160 million invested to take innovation “from the laboratory to the farm”, and in October, 21 agri-tech projects were granted total funding of £17.8 million to speed up the commercialisation of farming technology.