Farming must become more data driven, urges new Food & Drink Sector Council report

Low productivity in UK farming can be addressed with better use of data. That’s one of the findings of a new report from the Food & Drink Sector Council’s Agricultural Productivity Working Group (APWG) chaired by Sir Peter Kendall.

The report says a “massive acceleration in agricultural productivity growth is needed urgently” if the industry is to achieve the APWG’s ambitions for a world-leading, competitive and sustainable agriculture and horticulture industry that can meet consumer demands for high quality products at every price point.

The report says UK agriculture should become more data driven, allowing performance measurement and the sharing of data to compare between farms. There is a need, the report states, for simple, entry-point KPIs to be established and for policy incentives to promote data capture, use and sharing in a standardised way. There also needs to be “culture change across the industry” the report states, through a cohesive industry campaign to communicate the benefits for farm businesses of data collection and use for management.

Another key area for improvement is staff training, the report says. In 2013, only 18% of farm managers in England had full agricultural training, with 61% relying solely on practical experience. As well as cultural barriers to uptake, agricultural training in is provided by a wide range of organisations, across a wide range of topics. There is no single register of training organisations, or a central record of qualifications awarded. This fragmentation contributes to the low training uptake, the report states. 

The executive summary of the report can be found here

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