Drones and robots coming to a field near you

Robots and drones will play an increasingly important role in the production of food according to the founder of the Malvern Festival of Innovation.

Dr Adrian Burden said agriculture was going through a second significant revolution but rather than being based on new farming techniques, as it was in the 1600s, it will be led by autonomous vehicles, big data and artificial intelligence instead.

The subject will be explored in detail at a free agri-tech day on Wednesday, 7 October at Malvern Theatres as part of this year's Malvern Festival of Innovation.

Dr Burden said: "Herefordshire and Worcestershire are both predominantly rural counties with huge opportunities to capitalise on agricultural technology. Both the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Worcestershire LEP have identified this sector as a key focus area for the region.

"This is an opportunity for farmers, food and drink producers, business professionals and students to find out more about the state of play in agri-tech and how we as a region can compete globally."

Keynote speakers include Mark Stansfield, Chairman of Giffgaff and Chair of the Worcestershire LEP and who started his career at Cadbury and Kraft Foods.

Prof Simon Blackmore, from Harper Adams, will speak on the subject of robotic agriculture and will argue autonomous tractors equipped with advanced technology will prepare, tend and harvest crops with very little human intervention whilst improving yield and quality.

Those attending will also hear how advanced connected sensors will continuously feed information about the environment to farmers, taking the guesswork out of farming, while energy use and sustainability will also be discussed.

Alexander Fisher, from award winning Midlands firm Saturn Bioponics, will also demonstrate how his business is using new techniques, such as vertical growing, to tackle the issue of a shortage of land for growing.

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