Agri-technology and the future of farming

Agri-technology is any technology that can improve the efficiency and output of farming. Innovations of this kind could play a key role in the future of the industry. But safety and sustainability must come first.

A tractor at Hope Farm, pulling farming machinery
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What is agri-technology?

Agri-technology refers to a wide range of technologies which are used to improve the efficiency and output of agriculture. Examples include the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), automated irrigation, and intelligent software to predict pests and disease. Technologies like these can help increase sustainability in farming, for example by increasing crop diversity, reducing pesticide and fertiliser use, and helping farmers adapt to climate change.

Gene editing

Gene editing is used to breed plants and crops which have greater disease resistance, are more resilient to climate change and less reliant on pesticides and herbicides. It involves making changes to an organism’s DNA by moving, adding or deleting pieces of genetic material. Some of these changes occur randomly in conventional breeding but gene editing refines and speeds up this process. 

Genetic Modification (GM)

GM uses technology to transfer genetic material from one organism into another. The aim is to introduce a particular beneficial characteristic into the receiving organism, which is then known as a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). Worldwide, the main GM crops are soya, maize, cotton and Oilseed Rape which are grown widely in areas including the USA and Brazil. 

Potential risks

Agri-technology could help make food production more sustainable but its impact on wildlife, habitat and human health needs to be fully assessed before any new methods are put in place. Our concerns include possible increased pesticide impacts on nature, further declines in water quality and the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds. Robust regulation is essential to avoid these negative impacts or unintended consequences. 

Read more about our work on pesticides here 

Preventing damage to nature

Agri-technology must be regulated in a way that guarantees that the technology will only be used for the public good and not have a negative impact on nature or human health. New technologies should be developed that make farming more sustainable and help ease the shift towards greener farming techniques. The technologies should be just one part of a wider strategy to produce food in a way which allows nature to thrive and combats climate change. 

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