The agricultural industry must work together and act now to deal with the growing soil and water challenges it faces. This was one of the key messages to come out of the first Soil and Water LIVE Event held this week at Stoneleigh Park, organised by the Royal Agricultural Society of England and sponsored by Barclays.
Professor Tim Benton, Global Food Security Programme Champion
Highlighting the urgency of the issue in his keynote speech Professor Tim Benton, Global Food Security Programme Champion said: “A 60% increase in food production will be needed by 2050 to feed a growing and increasingly wealthy population. It has never been more important for producers to plan and manage for variability in the weather. Weather patterns are changing, and extreme heat and excessive rainfall will become the norm. It is essential for farmers to adapt and be prepared not only for drought, but also flood situations.”
Collaboration across the supply chain as well as investment and ongoing research and development were all recurring themes from the high profile panel including Professor Benton, Jean Spencer from Anglian Water, David Wilkinson from PepsiCo, Meurig Raymond from the National Farmers’ Union and Alan Wilson from Waitrose.
Lincolnshire grower Matthew Naylor summed up the situation for farmers when he said: “Water is fundamental to our businesses, yet it’s taken for granted and undervalued. Soil & Water LIVE has opened my eyes to a wide range of issues and the seriousness of the situation. Major investment is needed on farm, but for this to take place we need greater confidence in the industry. Today is a step in the right direction.”
“Soil and Water LIVE has inspired that confidence. It is good to see the industry coming together to face what is one of the key challenges for our future as British food producers.”
Martin Redfearn, Head of Barclays Agriculture and sponsor for the event commented: “Barclays is delighted to have been involved with Soil & Water LIVE. The morning debate brought together representatives from across agriculture and the water industry and gave a fantastic overview of the issues currently faced as well as highlightingjust how important further research and investment will be to ensuring long-term success. Delegates were then able to choose from a series of workshop sessions and take away practical ideas and technical advice for their business.”
David Gardner, Chief Executive of RASE, said: “The Royal Agricultural Society of England is thrilled to see the industry debating such an important subject and we look forward to working with key stakeholders in the future to explore further solutions to the challenges highlighted by Soil and Water LIVE.”
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