Farmers Weekly worked with a range of top agricultural businesses and organisations to bring a “Future of Farming” exhibition to the show, billed as “the world’s greatest science festival”, which took place at ExCel in London from 10-13 October.
The initiative gave more than 40,000 visitors of all ages a chance to see, learn about and get interactive with everything from state-of-the-art kit to cutting-edge crop breeding programmes.
By demonstrating the range of dynamic careers available in farming and food, it also encouraged Stem students to consider a future in the sector.
Inspiring next generation
“It was an opportunity to come to the heart of the city and reach out to a completely different audience,” said David Llewellyn, vice-chancellor of Harper Adams University.
“It was all about enthusing young people and breaking down the stereotypes.
“It’s not often that you see a combine harvester and a model of the moon in the same place!”
For Jim Morton, Syngenta’s external relations and partnerships manager, the event was a chance to inspire the next generation, and just one of the ways they did this was by giving visitors the chance to play the interactive “Lettuce Hero” digital game.
“It’s a bit of fun, but opened a conversation about everything from seed breeding, chemical technologies and precision agriculture to healthy food, soils and biodiversity,” he said.
“There’s no other career that involves such varied disciplines as biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, environmental science and data science.
“Put them all together and you have a really exciting job and one that results in a product that you feel really proud about delivering – food.”
The event gave children the chance to “appreciate all the things we’ve been telling them about in the classroom”, according to teacher Hayley Tullett from Claremont Fan Court School in Surrey.
“Inside-school learning and outside activities can sometimes feel very separate, but this helped bridge the gap between school and the outside world,” she said.
One young show-goer, Josh, from Sheen Mount Primary School in London, said visiting the stand had helped him understand climate change.
“My dad’s friend owns a farm, but I learned a lot today,” he said.
“Farming looks fun, but hard work – and the size of the combine totally blew me away.”
The Future of Farming team
“We are delighted to be partnering with Farmers Weekly on this exciting and innovative feature at New Scientist Live. One of the big themes for New Scientist Live is exploring the role science will play in addressing the many challenges the planet currently faces; how we sustainably feed an ever-growing population is a key example. The Future of Farming feature will showcase the groundbreaking research and innovations companies across the agricultural sector are engaged in. It will also demonstrate that the industry is embracing high-tech developments and should be considered an attractive sector for anyone considering a career in science and technology. We believe this feature embodies two key objectives of our event: inspiring the next generation into Stem-related careers and showcasing fascinating applications of science that have the power to impact the future of mankind.”
Adrian Newton, event director, New Scientist Live
Joining Farmers Weekly at New Scientist Live are these 14 organisations:
“Farming technology is a vital weapon in tackling the challenges involved in successfully and sustainably feed a growing world population. There is an increasing need for highly skilled people with technical know-how and a truly innovative outlook to maximise the potential of agri-tech. We hope that, at New Scientist Live, we will be able to tell this story to show that there is an exciting and tech-driven future for agriculture and for those who choose to work in the industry.”
Dave Ross, chief executive, Agri-EPI Centre
“More than half of large agribusinesses are facing a tech skills shortage and this is holding our sector back. Events like this are essential for funnelling existing and future tech talent into agriculture. It’s a long-term investment in the future success of our sector. People often don’t associate agriculture with technology or innovation. But they’re wrong. And events like this are a perfect place to showcase our sector’s innovations and change public perception.”
David Flanders, CEO, Agrimetrics
“We want to support the inspiration of the next generation to step into a career that helps feed the world with healthy nutritious food while simultaneously improving our environment to ensure a sustainable future for them and the generations to come.”
Fraser Black, CEO, Chap
“I want to inspire young people into science and the fantastic opportunities that this can offer them within the food and farming sector. This event gives us the opportunity to dispel the myth that agriculture is low-tech and slow moving. It will be a positive experience, showcasing the huge breadth of science-based applications and careers available. While the target audience is the young people attending, we need to enthuse and inform their parents and teachers too. Through the Future of Farming pavillion, we can demonstrate that agri-tech in food and farming can help solve many important national and global challenges.”
Lyndsay Chapman, chief executive, Ciel
“Every meal we eat is provided by agricultural experts using the latest high-tech systems and equipment to grow, feed and harvest crops around the world. Claas is delighted to support New Scientist Live so that the next generation of engineers can join the race to develop the technology for tomorrow that we haven’t even thought about yet.
Trevor Tyrrell, CEO, Claas
“G’s is proud to support the Farmers Weekly initiative to connect with New Scientist Live. It will offer a great platform to educate visitors as to where their food comes from, the increasing role that science and technology plays in feeding the nation, as well as the career opportunities that exist in this fast-paced industry.”
Matt Price, group head of learning and development, G’s Fresh
“We at Giants Software often hear stories that our Farming Simulator video game series not only sold more than 20m copies worldwide but also inspired players to later become farmers in real life. Our goal is to create an entertaining but also educational game, where our passionate fans can have fun but also learn more about the agricultural industry. We are happy to be part of New Scientist Live, where we can provide a joyful opportunity to get an insight into the diverse tasks, vehicles and tools that are waiting for future farmers.”
Martin Rabl, marketing and PR manager, GiantsSoftware
“It is vital for the agri-food industry to secure talented and highly skilled people to help feed the nation. Working with Farmers Weekly, other organisations and companies, we felt that the New Scientist Live event would provide a great opportunity to take that message to the heart of the capital. We are therefore pleased to be able to be part of this initiative and are working hard to make sure that those attending the New Scientist event can see some of the latest technological developments in agriculture that will encourage them to consider not only a career in the industry, but one that really matters to the future of the UK.”
David Llewellyn, vice-chancellor, Harper Adams University
“John Deere is passionate about promoting agriculture as an exciting and rewarding industry to work in, and one which is continually evolving through the use of cutting-edge technology to produce food, fibre and energy for the world. We see New Scientist Live as a perfect opportunity to share some of our latest technology and innovative thinking to help inspire future generations of engineers, designers and technicians and highlight the huge diversity of career opportunities that exist for talented, enthusiastic people from any background.”
Chris Wiltshire, marketing manager, John Deere
“We are an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science, genetics and microbiology. Our institute fosters a creative, curiosity-driven approach to fundamental questions in bio-science, with a view to translating that into societal benefits. Over the past 100 years, we have achieved a range of fundamental breakthroughs, resulting in major societal impacts.”
John Innes Centre
“The John Innes Foundation is always keen to support young scientists who wish to start, or further, their careers in plant science. Supporting Farmers Weekly’s Future of Farming exhibit and including some of the technology being developed at the John Innes Centre is a perfect way to accomplish this.“
Keith Norman, trustee, John Innes Foundation
“British farming has a fantastic story to tell when it comes to inspiring young people; whether that is the wide variety of high-tech, fast-paced careers across the sector or working directly with teachers in schools alongside the science, technology, engineering and maths curriculum to bring learning to life. The NFU is proud to be involved with the first New Scientist Live Future of Farming stand to showcase British farming and everything it delivers from world-leading standards of food production as well as the protection and enhancement of our natural environment.”
Minette Batters, president, NFU
“We are the trusted partner for global agriculture and animal health. Through our integrated network, workflow solutions and actionable insights, our customers are better connected to make more informed decisions, growing productivity and profitability.”
“Finding more sustainable ways to produce our food is one of the most urgent issues facing humanity. Science will help provide the solutions – and we need to encourage the best and brightest minds to take up that challenge.”
Achim Dobermann, director, Rothamsted Research
“Syngenta is at the forefront of the innovation and sustainable technology developments that are reshaping the future of agriculture. We’re delighted to work in partnership to showcase the extraordinary breadth of career opportunities in this exciting industry.”
Gary Mills-Thomas, Syngenta head, UK & Ireland