23rd February 2017, 2:07pm
New briefing series looks ahead to the future of farming
New briefing series looks ahead to the future of farming A new series of breakfast briefings detailing the latest agri-tech research and how it will impact on farming in the future has commenced in Lincolnshire.

Farmers from across the county attended the first briefing event, organised by the University of Lincoln's Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT), at the institute's headquarters on the University's Riseholme Campus, just north of Lincoln.

The event, which took place on Thursday 16th February 2017, focused on the fundamental topic of soil health. Academic, industrial and agricultural speakers examined recent advances in soil science, including studies which reveal how soil structure and microbial communities can affect crop cultivation.

Professor Simon Pearson, Director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology, said: "We are delighted to welcome so many of Lincolnshire's farmers and industry specialists to our new briefing series to talk about the fascinating developments taking place in the sector. The events represent a great opportunity for us to update our friends and colleagues on the work taking place here at Lincoln, and to discuss key challenges and solutions facing the sector.

"Agri-tech is quickly emerging as one of the most urgent but exciting areas of scientific research in the UK and in Lincolnshire we're in a prime position to benefit. Through our LIAT research, which hinges on excellent science and engineering, we're aiming to equip farmers with the tools and technologies they need to thrive."

At LIAT's Soil Health briefing, Professor Matthew Goddard, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Lincoln's School of Life Sciences, explained the importance of understanding the living components of soil. He described his research into how tiny genetic variations in yeast influence the distinctive taste, or terroir, of regional wine varieties, and highlighted the important implications this work has for biodiversity in farming. Professor Goddard's research reveals that even minor differences in the microbes present in soil can affect soil health and impact on product taste.

Dr Iain Gould, Research Fellow in Agriculture with LIAT, also presented at the briefing. Dr Gould is currently working on a new project to assess the true economic impact of coastal flooding on farmland and explore innovative, commercially viable ways to bring saltwater contaminated soils back into agricultural use. This project, led by rural economist Dr Gary Bosworth from Lincoln's School of Geography, involves farmers and landowners on the east coast of Lincolnshire, including The Wash.

As a soil science specialist, Dr Gould showcased a number of effective visual soil assessment methods which can be used by farmers to evaluate the health of their own soil.

The researchers were joined by guest speakers Philip Vickers, Crop Consultant from Aztec Ag Ltd, who explained why soil health should be the main objective for every farm, and Angus Gowthorpe from Approach Farm in Escrick, who shared his own experience of improving soil health across his land.

The breakfast briefings are monthly events, with each addressing a topic pertinent to the local farming community. Upcoming events will focus on subjects including biodiversity, agri-robotics, and agri-forestry.

For more information on the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology, visit the University of Lincoln website.
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