University of Lincoln hosts agri-tech briefings for local farmers

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The University of Lincoln is hosting a series of breakfast briefings to focus on the latest in agri-tech research and how it will impact on Lincolnshire farming.

The breakfast briefings are monthly events, with each addressing a topic pertinent to the local farming community. Upcoming events will focus on subjects including biodiversity, agri-robotics, and agri-forestry.

Farmers from across the county attended the first briefing event, organised by the university’s Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT), at the institute’s headquarters on the University’s Riseholme Campus.

The event, which took place on Thursday, February 16, focused on the fundamental topic of soil health.

Academic, industrial and agricultural speakers examined recent advances in soil science, including studies which reveal how soil structure and microbial communities can affect crop cultivation.

Professor Simon Pearson, Director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology, said: “Agri-tech is quickly emerging as one of the most urgent but exciting areas of scientific research in the UK and in Lincolnshire we’re in a prime position to benefit.

“Through our LIAT research, which hinges on excellent science and engineering, we’re aiming to equip farmers with the tools and technologies they need to thrive.

“The events represent a great opportunity for us to update our friends and colleagues on the work taking place here at Lincoln, and to discuss key challenges and solutions facing the sector.”

At LIAT’s Soil Health briefing, Professor Matthew Goddard, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, explained the importance of understanding the living components of soil.

He described his research into how tiny genetic variations in yeast influence the distinctive taste, or terroir, of regional wine varieties, and highlighted the important implications this work has for biodiversity in farming.

Professor Goddard’s research reveals that even minor differences in the microbes present in soil can affect soil health and impact on product taste.

Soil scientist Dr Iain Gould from the University of Lincoln

Dr Iain Gould, Research Fellow in Agriculture with LIAT, also presented at the briefing.

Dr Gould is currently working on a new project to assess the true economic impact of coastal flooding on farmland and explore innovative, commercially viable ways to bring saltwater contaminated soils back into agricultural use.

This project, led by rural economist Dr Gary Bosworth from Lincoln’s School of Geography, involves farmers and landowners on the coast of Lincolnshire, including The Wash.