Edinburgh to host four-day European conference on precision agriculture

More than 400 academics and industry experts will attend a European conference on ‘precision agriculture’ in Edinburgh next week. The four-day event, which takes place at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, will explore how new technology, combined with data analysis techniques, can enhance production for farmers and benefit the environment.

Delegates will hear how precision agriculture can address the challenge of feeding a growing world population from less land, with diminishing resources and facing serious concerns about the environment and climate change. Technologies like robotics, sensors and artificial intelligence, informed by the data generated from crop, soil and livestock systems, offer revolutionary solutions to some fundamental food production issues, a statement issued by the SRUC said.

The conference has been organised by representatives from BSAS (British Society of Animal Science), The James Hutton Institute (Dundee), Newcastle University, SoilEssentials and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Representing SRUC, the lead academic host for the event, Dr Tony Waterhouse said: “Precision agriculture is in use across the world and delegates from the Americas, Australasia, Europe and China will be explaining developments in the use of sensors and other technologies in vinyards, mountain pastures and intensive cropping systems both tropical and temperate. We are all learning far more precise and efficient ways to grow livestock and crops without using so many pesticides, wasting nutrients or damaging vital soils.

“It will be a fascinating week,” he added. “I look forward not only to the international contributions, but those from my SRUC Colleagues, including Simon Gibson-Poole on his disease detection work using UAV’s or drones”, Claire Morgan-Davies on EID and the management of sheep in a hill farming system systems research at the Kirkton Hill & Mountain Research Centre and research with Fiona Kenyon of the Moredun on precision sheep worm control. In addition there will be a talk by Professor Bob Rees on soil management while Dr Paul Hargreaves will explain his work on soil compaction and tractors in grass management.”