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Farmers are in danger of allowing a leap into regenerative agriculture pull their business out of shape, growers have been warned. Caution urged over rush to regenerative agriculture

Agrovista UK agronomist Chris Martin discussing cover crops on farm at Stannington, Northumberland for Jane Craigie.

Farmers are in danger of allowing a leap into regenerative agriculture pull their business out of shape, growers have been warned.

Regenerative farming systems can be more sustainable. But some farmers are rejecting current practice without robust data to inform their decisions, said Richard Williamson, managing director of software company Trinity AgTech.

Mr Williamson was speaking as a panellist at an event hosted by the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund. Encouragement should be given to technologies that enable farmers to take a holistic approach in how they adopt innovation, he said. 

While precision technology could provide solutions, maintaining soil health should remain at the heart of all agricultural businesses. “New technology cannot come in at the expense of the fundamentals of good management,” said Mr Williamson. 

The event brought together organisations to explore ways that agri-tech and precision farming solutions can help farmers meet these targets while capturing opportunities in carbon and natural capital markets.

“In the UK, the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) has blunted the effect innovation can have on ensuring progress for farming businesses,” said Mr Williamson.

“We currently have an analogue system where so much of the value created on farm is captured and consumed by intermediaries between the farmgate and the end customer. 

Market value

“As BPS falls away, the opportunity is to move to a digital system. But if farmers are to take more control and to capture back the value they deserve from the market, they need the data on their farm and access to it that is easy to use.”

Trinity AgTech has developed a simple-to-use digital assistant called Sandy to allow farmers to accurately and independently assess their farm’s sustainability. The company says Sandy can help steer a path to greater profitability.

Sandy’s core tools include carbon footprint and biodiversity assessments. It can also be used to optimise livestock feed strategies; monitor crop performance; and analyse productivity and financial performance at farm, crop and field level.

The software was developed by a team of more than 30 scientists and engineers in consultation with farmers and industry leaders. It integrates with a range of other farm software through an easy-to-use series of tools.

Read more about soil health and conservation agriculture.