UK must embrace innovation to make farming economically & environmentally viable, says new IEA report
- Innovation in farming has led to higher crop yields which, in turn, have allowed more land to be spared from farming than would otherwise have been the case.
- Raising yields further to feed a growing global population will require new technologies to be embraced, including genetic modification, gene silencing and editing, as well as developments in precision farming and robotics.
- EU regulations and its Common Agricultural Policy have hindered innovation in agriculture. Brexit therefore presents a golden opportunity for the UK to look afresh at available technologies. Britain should be at the forefront of encouraging innovation in agriculture, allowing farmers and consumers to reap the economic and environmental benefits.
- Economic incentives can be structured to align such innovation with environmental gain, through concepts such as habitat banking and environmental credits. Innovative policy making can bring rewards to habitat creation, wildlife enhancement and ecological benefits, in a form that is both effective and affordable.
- Whilst many farmers and landowners already deliver some conservation on their land, mechanisms to facilitate greater and larger-scale participation by them will be paramount to restoring biodiversity in the UK.
- In addition to an expansion in sustainable food and farming systems in the coming decades, technological advances provide opportunities to increase efficiencies and provide land for biodiversity restoration