Comment: We need to bridge the gap between academia and real farming businesses

By Aimee Mahony, NFU poultry adviser

Technology and innovation have always been a key part of poultry businesses and going forward these areas will become even more pivotal as we look to increase our efficiency, improve our productivity and work towards our climate change goals.

Poultry farmers have always been at the forefront of embracing technology and have reaped the benefits – we are one of the most productive farming sectors producing 13% of the agricultural output from only 1% of the land.

However, we must continue to improve and how we develop the technology on offer will be absolutely crucial. It’s the NFU’s firm belief that farmers need to be central to how we run research and development in our sector, which is why once again this year we are hosting a poultry research seminar for academics and farmers to come together and exchange ideas.

The whole aim of this event is to bridge the gap between academia and what is happening on the ground – it’s incredibly important that we engage with scientists to ensure that their research is relevant to farmers and also practical on a farm level.

All too often we’ve seen a great piece of research that looks like it could revolutionise our sector but then quickly realised that it would simply not work on a commercial scale. By organising this event, we can ensure we cover the areas that are worthwhile to farmers: improving productivity, improving bird health and welfare and delivering for the consumer, to name just three.

Improving broiler welfare, maintaining feather cover for laying hens, poultry education projects, blockchain technology and nutritional modification of poultry products to meet consumer needs are just a few of the exciting areas that will be discussed at the event.

However, this is only one element and we need to see the government play its part through future domestic agricultural policy. Its so important that farmers have the confidence to invest in new technology and innovate their businesses. Ultimately, this will all help farmers to continue doing what they do best – producing safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.



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