Greenhouse

Regenerative agriculture - Technological Solutions

Despite the increased appreciation of 'ecological intelligence' as an approach to combine regenerative and technological solutions to redesign agri-food systems, its adoption and diffusion has been limited to small-scale initiatives. What seems to be missing is the analysis and evaluation of key conditions for the adoption and diffusion of solutions inspired by ecological intelligence in agri-food systems, particularly to move beyond small-scale projects. 

In order to overcome this knowledge gap, better understanding how 'ecological intelligence' can be used to facilitate the convergence of technological (data-driven) development and the adoption and diffusion of regenerative practices is key:

  • Further investigating organizational and market-based mechanisms for the diffusion of business-driven strategies to scale-up regenerative practices, through big data, farm system design, retrofitting equipment and wide application of robotics and drones, and particularly for soil tillage, bio-based soil fertilization, pollination and pest control.

  • Enhancing our understanding of the role of small-scale innovations led by farmers and agriculturalists, to adapt existing technologies to agro-ecological practices, based on specific farm needs.

  • Analysing the diffusion mechanisms of technology-oriented (learning) platforms to offer services and investments to farmers interested in adopting high-tech solutions.

 

Further investigates organizational solutions for the diffusion of business- driven strategies to scale-up agro-ecological and regenerative practices.

Analysing and enhancing our understanding the role of small-scale innovations led by farmers and agriculturalists, to adapt existing technologies to agro-ecological practices, based on specific farm needs.

Analysing the diffusion mechanisms of technology-oriented (learning) platforms to offer services and investments to farmers interested in adopting high-tech solution.

Regenerative agriculture namely "...a system of principles and practices that produces food, sequesters carbon, and enhances biodiversity at the farm scale."[1] through technology- driven approaches. An important aspect of our research agenda in relation to regenerative agriculture and regenerative technologies 'REGEN-TECH' is understanding and disseminating the importance of utilising innovations in the development and support of a productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector throughout the UK.

We propose adoption and diffusion of innovation through farm redesign, simulation, and management tool in order to unlock massive productivity and profitability reserves, increase resilience to climate change, promote natural and social capital regeneration and generate complementary revenue streams.

Another important aspect we believe is important to stimulate, is the exchange of information, the formation of a community of practice and research, in order to aid farmers in improving their profits, bolster their resilience, whilst simultaneously promoting benefits to the wider rural community.

The high value of farmland in the UK, coupled with low productivity has meant investors have been unable to get financial returns in the UK, currently between 1% and 3%, and have sought better returns by investing overseas; Ref: Westchester. The investment that has taken place in the UK, e.g. Welcome Trust acquisition of Coop Farm Portfolio has gained a 3% return, but with the objective of selling portions of the land for development and planning conversion to housing. The amount of farmland for food production is therefore reduced.

Farm gate share of retail price has dropped 15% since 1988. In the period 2005 to 2015, 33,000 farms either closed or merged into larger holdings. CAP payments account for on average 50% of farm income, yet more than 60% of farmers earn less than £10,000 pa. And UK farm productivity is falling behind: 0.9% growth compared to the Netherlands (3.5%) or US (3.2%). Land allocated to horticulture - the fruit and vegetables we need to eat more of -- has decreased by 25% in 30 years.[1]

[1] Farming for Change, Mapping a Route to 2030; FF&CC January 2021