Seed meets technology and futureproof field crops: UK agritech collaboration with the Dutch
This week, representatives of seven UK organisations have started a three-day tour of agricultural R&D sites in the Netherlands. The tour will highlight the newest developments in agricultural and horticultural innovation as well as the policies driving them.
Among the organisations are the four UK-Tech Centres, who – together with the Dutch Wageningen University & Research (WUR) – announced last month they are progressing a sustainable farming partnership to seek to establish new, joint opportunities for innovative public-private partnerships in agrifood science and business. Although the WUR has collaborated most with UK scientist (of all global organizations), the cooperation had been mostly on ad hoc basis. The WUR stated it now has a partner of considerable reach in the UK, looking at the strengths, connectivity and scope of the UK national Agri-Tech Centres.
Both the UK and the Netherlands are looking for innovative solutions to help meet the challenges of sustainable global food production, including reducing its environmental impact. The UK innovation centres will visit Seed Valley, a leading centre in plant breeding and seed technology. Companies in Seed Valley develop new flower and vegetable varieties like mini cauliflower or hamburger lettuce: improved varieties that give higher yields, are resistant to drought, are suitable for modern cultivation methods, or which can help reduce food waste.
As the UK aims to produce food made to high environmental and animal welfare standards with lower emissions, the UK organisations are also looking at the circular farming model and the particular Dutch approach to agricultural innovation ('triple helix' model). These models provide ways forward and solutions to challenges shared by the UK and the Netherlands. The Farm of the Future in Lelystad, which they will visit, aims to demonstrate how to grow crops in a fully sustainable way, meaning: closed-loop recycling, high levels of biodiversity, minimal environmentally harmful emissions, no fossil fuels and assured incomes for farmers.
The UK organisations will also visit the World Horti Center, the international knowledge and innovation centre for greenhouse horticulture; greenhouse and indoor farm developer and technical installer Certhon; and Agrofoodcluster, the innovation cluster for field crops. The tour also includes a one-day visit to the campus of Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and the FrieslandCampina Innovation Centre in Wageningen. As North Sea Neighbours, the UK and the Netherlands can tap into new opportunities for collaboration in agritech. Both countries are home to world-class agricultural research and forward-thinking agricultural industries, that share the same ambition to be at the forefront of the transition to a highly efficient and sustainable agriculture and horticulture. Speaking on behalf of the four UK Agri-Tech Centres, Lyndsay Chapman, Chief Executive of the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) said:
“We are very grateful to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, and the Dutch Embassy in the UK for hosting this fascinating and collaborative visit. The UK Agri-Tech Centres are keen to strengthen our links with the Netherlands, to support innovation for sustainable global farming and food. Our visit this week follows our recent announcement of the exciting partnership with Wageningen University & Research, also involved in the tour programme. We look forward to working together with our North Sea Neighbour.”
The UK organisations represented in the tour are the four UK Agri-Tech Centres – Crop Health & Protection (CHAP); (CIEL); Agri-EPI Centre; and Agrimetrics - along with Agri-TechE, LEAF, and New Anglia LEP on the invitation of the Dutch government. The tour is organised by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Dutch Embassy in the UK.