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From the editor: We must seize technological and scientific change

Technology has always been a huge driver of change, whether at a societal level or in purely agricultural terms.

Over the past 75 years the non-stop innovation around farm machinery and technology has reshaped the industry like nothing before it, with farmers able to do more with less and the farm workforce massively reducing.

 

It has also enabled farms to get bigger and swallow up smaller units, which has materially changed the demographics of rural areas as buildings, previously utilised for farm use, have been snapped up for redevelopment and conversion.

 

Field sizes have also ballooned in certain areas amid the march for efficiency, while advances in livestock housing and equipment have taken many animals indoors on a permanent basis, particularly in dairying.

 

Yet as this edition of Farmers Guardian alludes to, many commentators now believe the rate of change will quicken once again.

 

While many have for a long time suggested the industry was on the cusp of another technological revolution, these same voices believe Covid-19 could act as yet another facilitator for change.


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On a basic level we can already see that coming. The auction system has adapted quickly to changing rules around social distancing, with this week’s reports in our sales and machinery sections showing how quickly online buying and selling has been taken up.

 

Whether it lasts post-lockdown will be interesting to see, but there is no doubt there is greater willingness to utilise our new found digital connectivity.

 

Then there are the more complex considerations around where technology will lead us, with calls for gene editing to be enabled legislatively as we leave the EU.

 

Many believe the EU has stymied innovation with its opposition to certain forms of crop science, but these are developments which strike a more contentious chord and could ultimately be defined by the court of public opinion.

 

But as the UK moves to a new reality outside the EU and in a post-Covid world, it must seize and utilise the technological and scientific developments which so often originate in this country.

 

Change really does not wait for anyone.

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