BBC News turns to N8 AgriFood expertise for Farming Focus Week

BBC News has featured N8 AgriFood’s expertise in precision agriculture as part of its Farming Focus week.

News stations throughout the UK have been reporting dedicated farming features as the BBC shines the spotlight on issues facing agriculture.

As part of the Farming Focus Week, N8 AgriFood’s Chair and Academic Lead at the University of Manchester, Professor Bruce Grieve, has been interviewed about how advances in precision agriculture can help with global food security and climate change.

Prof Grieve spoke to the BBC National News team about a recent paper  “The challenges posed by global broadacre crops in delivering smart agri-robotic solutions: A fundamental rethink is required”. The interview is scheduled for broadcast this evening on the 6pm and 10pm BBC News. 

Highlights of the paper include:

  •       Sustainable intensification can be catalysed by self-evolving Smart Technologies.
  •       Mainstream agri-economics drives the integration of biology & physical engineering.
  •       Assisting & enabling current breeding, chemistry and agronomic solutions.
  •       Combining agri-sensors and robotics with localised and cloud-based AI.
  •       Paradigm shift in professional education: Biologically conversant Engineers & Vice Versa.

Prof Grieve was also interviewed by BBC journalist Judy Hobson for a feature which aired yesterday evening on BBC North West Tonight. In his interview Prof Grieve gave a general overview of the effects of over nitrification of soils on GHG emissions, before outlining how this can be mitigation through precision agriculture, i.e. how variable rate application of fertilisers combined with multispectral imaging could alleviate the issues. 

Speaking about nitrogen used in agricultural fertilisers, Prof Grieve said: “It will go right up into the ozone layer, and it’s only when it reaches right up into the ozone layer that the sun is powerful enough to break it down. 

“It then forms the gas that we know about in the cities, the nitrous oxide, the NO2, which damages the ozone layer. So that’s the key issue of arable agriculture is managing that nitrogen more efficiently.”

The feature also discussed  how precision agriculture, when integrated with Artificial Intelligence, can move us into breading climate tolerant crops through phenotyping directly in the field and getting a more accurate indication of which cultivars (crops) would be the most appropriate. The interview then touched on the higher efficiencies of land-usage that can be offered again by such approaches.