Farming for the Future

Laura McNamara

Simon Blackmore is changing the future of farming with his Unibots project (see post), but he’s also farming for the future with the European project Future Farm. But, Simon says, the project is all about implementing the technologies of today:

“The purpose of Future Farm is to take a lot of the technologies and processes that we’ve been developing in precision agriculture and actually integrate them together into a farm management situation,” said Simon. “So we’re not going to be developing necessarily any new technologies or any new real ideas but learn how to bring them together.”

Robotics, biofuels, energy self-sufficiency and particularly precision agriculture are all key aspects to the European project.

“We’re also looking at the socio-economic aspects. Looking at biofuels, and we also have one part looking at robotics,” Simon said.”

Simon says simplifying the precision farming techniques of today is a big part of thoroughly integrating it in agriculture’s future:

“Well that’ s an issue of adoption and I’ve actually written some papers on adoption where we’ve been looking at why precision farming hasn’t actually gone into the mainstream,” Simon said. “And one of the main reasons is as I’ve said, this level of complexity. As scientists and engineers we can produce a map of many many different things, soil types, nutrient holding capacity and so on. But actually how many of these things are relevant to management decision and the secondly even if they are relevant the tools that make them available aren’t readily available for the farmer. So another aspect to the problem with the adoption of precision is the timeliness. So therefore we have the knowledge but we don’t necessarily have all the tools and those tools are not integrated, so these are the aspects we’re trying to build.”

I interviewed Simon about what the future of farming looks like for the EU. You can listen to my interview here:

Simon Blackmore, Project Manager of Future Farm

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