A study undertaken by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) titled “Farm of the Future: 2030 Vision and Beyond”, will be published as an interim briefing in advance of the UN Climate Change COP26 event in November. This will be ahead of the final report which is set to be published in early 2022. Examining the need for urgent decarbonisation of the land-based industries, the report recognises that farming, which occupies 75% of the UK landmass, has a vital role to play in the transition of our rural and bio-resource economies. This report will emphasise the challenges facing farmers, outline technology changes and highlight opportunities for farmers and policy asks to Government.
It will discuss likely changes in production methods, adoption of innovative crop and animal husbandry technologies, low carbon energy sources, emerging low emission transport fuels and improved management of soil, water and other environmental resources. It will embrace all aspects of the UK’s food supply chain.
Whilst farms must remain viable and profitable, like other industries, agriculture must respond to the challenges brought about by climate change. This will require the continued lowering of greenhouse gas emissions and technical solutions to enable the eventual replacement of fossil fuels, including diesel.
It includes enhancing value from organic bio-resources and increasing on-farm biodiversity. Over the next decade, within an ever-diversifying rural economy, farmers will need to adapt to new regulations and supply chain requirements to deliver against national targets on emissions reduction whilst at the same time maintaining farm productivity.
With this in mind, the ‘Farm of the Future’ report examines the main challenges and opportunities presented by climate change and other external factors likely to impact on UK farming over the next decade and beyond.
Farmers, land managers and rural communities have a reputation for resilience and innovation needed to combat external factors such as the weather, economic downturns, market disruption, political change – and of course global crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Now they need to have a better understanding of the extent of the low carbon transition required over the next decade and beyond.
Richard Gueterbock, who also sits on the report editorial board and who is also an ex RASE trustee explains: “Farming in the UK is rich in its diversity – ranging from smallholdings and hill farms to large arable and intensive livestock units; from local family farms to corporate-owned estates; and from raw material producers to those incorporating specialist on-farm processing and distribution.
The study considers the combination of economic, social and environmental factors and how they might impact across the industry. Through the inputs from specialist authors and case studies, it will raise the challenges, highlight the opportunities and present a vision to encourage and engage farmers, land managers and rural communities to face the future with optimism. The report will make recommendations which will contribute to policy decisions and a roadmap for 2030 and beyond.”
‘Farm of the Future’ will discuss mechanisms for change, introduce innovative technical solutions and highlight new business models and solutions. The report is being prepared within the broader context of climate change, biodiversity, changing global markets and a resilient rural economy.
Philip Gready, Chairman of RASE adds: “None of the goals set by policy makers are achievable without comprehensive buy-in from farmers and land managers. We believe that this report will provide a truly independent analysis of the key issues that need to be addressed by the agricultural industry in responding to climate change. We also hope to offer clear, well founded commentary on the move to a fully sustainable, profitable and productive future. It is timed to raise the profile of the role of UK farming and the wider rural economy within the context of COP26 due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021.”