On 27th March University of Sheffield’s P3 Centre invited international delegates from across the Agri-tech industry to participate in a full programme of talks, networking and a “Question Time” panel event. Over 120 attendees joined us in the grand location of the University’s Firth Hall to discuss how we can work together around engagement, innovation and impact in plant sciences. The Centre for Plant Production and Protection (P3), worked in partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) to jointly host this event for the 3rd year running. The day brought people together from academia, the food industry such as farmers and growers, and other research & development companies in the area of crop sciences; with the aim of facilitating collaborative networks to address agriculture-related challenges.
For the first time, the event involved the use of the interactive survey tool Mentimeter. This allowed each presenter to pose questions to the audience, and a visual representation of the answers were displayed in real time. This was particularly useful to highlight the different perspectives in the room and as a tool for further discussion. This innovative approach added another element to the event and created an environment in which everyone could engage and discuss the questions and votes.
This year the talks focused on the innovative ways that professionals from across academia, food production and policy makers can work together to develop new strategies to tackle the issues in the agri-food industry. This included links with P3 researchers but also colleagues from other academic disciplines. The opening keynote was delivered by Professor Peter Jackson from the University of Sheffield’s Geography department, who spoke about how relevant and important it is to include social science approaches when discussing new solutions and technology uptake in the food industry. Ruth Little continued this theme with her talk around farming practises and current issues around adopting new technology. Mark Reed of the N8 AgriFood Network presented an engaging talk about research impact and making a real difference. Adam Bedford, Regional Director for the NFU, spoke candidly about the future of british farming. A transcript of talks from the day will be available soon.
To open the afternoon session, the KTN launched the Innovate UK Pre Competitive Plant and Crop Science booklet. This booklet contains information and analysis of research and factors necessary for adoption of new technology across the farming industry. Sections including Crop Health and Emerging Technologies are of particular importance to the P3 Centre and our partners.
The meeting was followed by an evening drinks reception and a Q & A panel discussion chaired by Professor Duncan Cameron, one of the Directors of the P3 Centre. Duncan was joined by a panel with specialist experience from across the industry, including: Dr Jill Edmondson leader of the University of sheffield citizen Science MYharvest project, Richard Bramley of Manor Farm, Dr. David Langton from Agrii, Genetic biologist Prof Athole Marshal from Aberystwyth University, Professor Julie Gray, plant developmental biologist, and Dr Clive Blacker from agronomy company Precision Decisions. This consortium of experts put forward their knowledgeable insights on questions invited from the audience.
Attendees of the conference noted that the event had been useful, with valuable opportunities to network and have conversations which have led to project discussions.
The P3 Centre and the KTN are already planning for the next event in March 2019.