We’re on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution. Farming is set to change forever. It is entering the digital age, with British ideas and British technology at its helm. The fully-fledged digital farm will feature robotics, drones, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and blockchain. This may sound futuristic, but this revolution is already underway.
One of the companies driving this change is British agritech start-up Small Robot Company. Using robotics and artificial intelligence, we have created an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious farming. Our farmbots Tom, Dick and Harry will seed, feed and weed arable crops autonomously, with minimal waste. As CLA members, Small Robot Company was first introduced by the CLA with its TechHub last November: its showcase of innovative agritech companies at the East of England Farming Conference.
This week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Spring Reception took a look at this future. The event celebrated new possibilities for improving the efficiency and sustainability of agriculture. It championed the British companies - including ourselves - making this possible.
Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, delivered the visionary keynote address. She spoke ardently on the Government’s support for agri-tech and opportunities for technology to transform the UK agricultural sector, help British farmers compete in global markets, and boost food security in the UK and abroad. How agriculture is the industry for the future.
The overarching theme was productivity, efficiency and opportunity. The 4IR will transform agriculture in Britain and around the world, revolutionising farming and food security. At the same time, it will make it easier to protect the environment while producing high quality food at affordable prices. This is an extremely exciting time to be a farmer.
A new world of opportunity.
By Sam Watson Jones, co-founder, Small Robot Company and fourth generation farmer.