The region around our base in Cambridge is known as Silicon Fen due to the area’s cluster of high-tech businesses, which focus on electronics, software and biotechnology.
However our beautiful rural location also means that a lot of pioneering research work is undertaken in the field of agriculture (excuse the pun).
Our locality is teeming with movers and shakers from the agricultural research world, from BBRO in Norwich, the UK sugar beet industry’s scientific research and technology transfer hub, to the globally-recognised expertise coming from Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, an R&D facility owned by AHDB and operated by its Potato Council division. There are extensive crop trials happening at ADAS Boxworth along the A14, and of course around the site of Cereals – the leading event for the UK arable industry, which is taking place in the next couple of weeks at Boothby Graffoe in Lincolnshire. One of our clients has this month been working with Wicken Fen, the National Trust’s first Nature Reserve, acquired back in 1899. Today it remains one of the most important wetlands in Europe.
We have been lucky enough to see some of this impressive research and development in action, and this has undoubtedly helped our colleague Nicola to recently pass her foundation BASIS exam in agronomy. Her course was an excellent introduction to the integrated crop protection and crop nutrition of the UK’s combinable and root crops – including crop walking in snow, sunshine and rain, a good indication to the variety of strange weather we’ve experienced so far this season.
Responsible use of pesticides was an important component of the course, which saw Nicola study alongside some of the younger faces of the farming industry who will help to shape the future of UK agriculture.
Sustainability should be at the heart of every farmer’s business. At first glance recent headlines seem to show that isn’t the case, for example the European Food Safety Organisation’s findings looking at the decline in the number of bees due to neonicotinoid pesticides, or the joint State of Nature report, compiled by 25 wildlife organisations, which assessed the population and distribution trends of 3,148 species. But if we delve deeper, to see what steps the industry is talking to safeguard against the harm done by past generations and older farming solutions, for example polluted watercourses due to high levels of slug pellet use, we can see that the UK’s agricultural research and development isn’t going to waste.
In the words of Sir David Attenborough: “This ground-breaking [State of Nature] report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope. We have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife. The experts have come together to highlight the amazing nature we have around us and to ensure that it remains here for generations to come.”