Envireau Water’s Managing Director James Dodds (who served as UKIA Treasurer for 10 years), attended this year’s conference which was on “Precision Irrigation”.
Precision Irrigation is a reality in many drier countries where water scarcity has stimulated innovative irrigation technology development and management practices. Farmers claim it improves crop quality and productivity and reduces costs of water and energy. The conference examined whether Precision Irrigation is appropriate for more humid conditions like those in the UK; and whether this new approach to irrigation could benefit UK growers and give more support to the environmentally sustainable practices that consumers are now demanding.
With key note speakers Simon Blackmore (Director of National Centre for Precision Farming, Harper Adams University) and Carolyn Hedley (Landcare New Zealand) – who joined via webconferencing at almost midnight in NZ; we got input from a world authority on the use of robotics in agriculture and an international authority on managing soils for precision irrigation.
The conference provided a fascinating insight into what is happening now and what may happen in the future. It was clear from the floor that cost constraints are limiting the “blue sky thinking” that is needed to push acceptance and development forward; but those growers that have used some of the techniques in the UK are reporting benefits.
The message that James brought back was “watch this space …”.