Visitors to New Scientist Live on 10-13 October will be able to experience some of the exciting developments helping to shape the future of farming.

In October more than 40,000 people will descend on London’s Excel exhibition centre for the world’s biggest science and technology fair РNew Scientist Live.

Few of those planning to visit the show are likely to be considering a career in agriculture. And for British farming, that’s a problem.

The need for skills development in order to maintain a world-class, innovative agricultural industry sector was identified as a priority in KTN’s 2018 Pre-Competitive Vision for the UK‚Äôs Plant and Crop Sector, which stated “To attract a high calibre of young people at all levels of employment, we must demonstrate a modern, technical industry that offers attractive and diverse career opportunities.”

Farming is going through the biggest period of change in its history, partly driven by an avalanche of new technology and science developments set to transform the way we grow crops and raise livestock. These include on-farm robotics, the creation of valuable new genetic traits in plants and animals, new precision farming tools and smart data analytics to help farmers make better decisions on their farms.

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To harness these exciting developments, we need to bring fresh skills into agriculture, particularly science and technology skills, attracting people from outside the traditional recruiting grounds of farming families and agricultural colleges. But persuading these people to work in agriculture isn’t easy. Because for the vast majority, with little knowledge of modern farming, the industry has a serious image problem Рseen as low-tech, low-skill and slow-moving. That’s not an attractive image if you’re an ambitious young person with a science or technology degree considering where you might build an exciting and rewarding career.

So Farmers Weekly is working with a group of 14 leading farming businesses and organisations to tackle those misconceptions head-on. The ambitious plan is to create a huge interactive feature at the heart of the New Scientist Live show, giving visitors hands-on experience of some of the exciting developments helping to shape the future of farming. The¬†14 organisations hosting activities in the Future of Farming zone at New Scientist Live include the UK’s Agri-Tech Centres (Agri-Epi Centre,¬†Agrimetrics,¬†CHAP,¬†CEIL),¬†Claas,¬†G‚Äôs Fresh,¬†Harper Adams University,¬†John Deere,¬†John Innes Centre,¬†John Innes Foundation,¬†NFU,¬†Proagrica,¬†Rothamsted Research, and Syngenta.

KTN’s agri-food team is delighted to have been able to help shape the activities taking place in the¬†Future of Farming zone, which will include robotic milking, tracking micro-chipped slugs, speed-breeding new crop varieties, smart feeding to control greenhouse gasses and crop mapping via satellite. The space will also feature a state-of-the-art John Deere 8400R tractor and a Claas Tucano 580 combine, highlighting the impressive, complex kit needed on modern farms.

Over the four days of New Scientist Live the participating organisations hope to interact with tens of thousands of visitors, and persuade as many of them as possible that agriculture is one of the most exciting places to be for an ambitious, tech-savvy young person.

What is New Scientist Live?

New Scientist Live, now in its fourth year, is the world’s biggest science and technology fair. Running for four days (10th-13th October), the event takes up four of the giant halls in London’s massive Excel exhibition centre. It features six stages hosting more than 150 talks on the latest science and technology developments, with more than 130 exhibitors and over 150 interactive activities.

What’s on show

Visitors to the Future of Farming zone will be able to take part in a range of activities, including:

Micro-chipped slugs: Use a detector to track the movement of slugs with micro-chips embedded in their bodies. Understanding how slugs move and behave enables Harper Adams University to advise farmers on how best to use their pesticides.

Britain’s peskiest pest: A plant diagnostic activity hosted by Rothamsted Research, where visitors find the culprit behind crop loss, using microscopes and UV light. Visitors investigate 5 crop pests and problems and vote on the “peskiest”.

Speed-breeding: Speed-breeding uses a modified growth environment to speed up the growth of crops, reducing the time needed to breed in traits that improve yield or disease resistance. Experts from the John Innes Centre will be on hand to explain the technique and show visitors how it works.

Lettuce Heroes: Syngenta’s on-screen game, based on real precision farming technology, allows visitors to help protect the farmer’s field of lettuces from troublesome weeds, unruly insects and damaging fungal disease. But look out for the friendly ladybirds and bees – we don’t want to hurt them!

High-tech Milking: A look at how robotics, sensors and 5G connectivity plays a role in milk production, featuring a GEO robotic milker and a model cow fitted with internal sensors. Plus a live video link to the Agri-Epi Centre’s 5G-connected diary centre so visitors can see the milker and the connected cows in action.

Satellite Farming: Visitors use the Rhiza Precision Soil Map on tablets to see how satellite data can help farmers apply fertiliser and pesticides more precisely, to reduce the amount of chemical used.

Burping Cow: Controlling the output of greenhouse gasses from cattle. Visitors can choose different feed options to see how they affect the carbon footprint of cows.

Top-end Tractor: Visitors will be able to climb aboard John Deere‘s mammoth 8400R tractor, with its 400hp engine and touch screen control centre.

Cool Combine: Claas is bringing one of its sophisticated Tucano 580 combines to the show. The 5m high beast incorporates a host of smart features, including the ability to spot blockages before they happen.

Would you like to attend?

The show takes place from Thursday, 10th October to Sunday, 13th October at London ExCel.

For further information and tickets please visit the event website here.

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