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Farmers and scientists working together is key to profits in agriculture say Yorkshire academics

Now is the time to grasp agricultural challenges say two land-based academics who have been appointed to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society backed Farmer Scientist Network.

Land-based academics Dr Dave George and Professor Jonathan Leake have been appointed as the new chairman and vice-chairman of the Farmer Scientist Network.

The network works with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society to advise policymakers in the UK and beyond on issues such as farming practices, food security, sustainable productivity and the ways in which new science and technology can solve problems and underpin innovation in agriculture, and Dave and Jonathan believe now is an exciting time to grasp pressing agricultural challenges.

New Farmer Scientist Network chairman Dr Dave George of Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, has specialist knowledge in the use of biopesticides and precision agriculture technology and is passionate about driving forward future farming systems to benefit food production.

Dave said: “There is a realisation across the board that we cannot address the sustainability challenges we are all facing without working with the farming sector.

“One of the most interesting things is how we get the right balance to use land to produce nutritional food and to promote natural capital. Farmers need to be able to continue to farm, to produce food in the right way and in the right place, and so it is about exploring trade-offs in an industry where it isn’t one-size-fits-all.”

Vice-chairman Jonathan Leake is Professor of Plant-Soil Interactions at the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences, whose areas of interest include soil health, regenerative agriculture, the use of leys in arable rotations to regenerate beneficial soil organisms, carbon sequestration, soil structure, and the use of minimal tillage.

Jonathan said: “We are at a very exciting place in farming and science where there is a lot of unrealised potential to link them together.

“Scientists need to be better informed about farming’s challenges and farmers need a better understanding of the ways in which science can help to make their farms more sustainable, environmentally and economically.”

The Farmer Scientist Network, guided by its new leadership team, will now work with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society to effect positive innovation in the industry by working with the crop and livestock sectors.

Regenerative Agriculture is a key current focus of the Farmer Scientist Network. Through a series of events, farmers are being offered opportunities to learn about regenerative techniques that are being adopted to drive farming profitability and productively in harmony with the environment.


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