All too often stories of dawn rises, backbreaking labour and welly wanging are used to sum up agricultural life. And that does a high-tech industry a great disservice if Farming Today: The Future of Food (Radio 4, 30 April, 6.30am) is any indicator.
For one, growing food is no longer consigned to the countryside. Urban farming is popping up across cities to supply restaurants and small retailers with micro herbs, kale and basil grown minutes from their kitchens, outlined Tom Webster, co-founder of GrowUp Urban Farms. Tom - one of the finalists of the BBC’s Farming Awards ‘Future Food’ category gathered for the programme - predicted global expansion of aquaponics, which fertilises urban plants with waste from tilapia fish swimming in the same building.
Then came an unlikely eco-hero in the shape of McDonald’s supply chain manager Connor McVeigh with news of a sustainability app rolled out by the fast food chain to British farmers. The app had already led farmers to cut down methane from cattle by fattening them up quicker.
Farmers are paying attention to the environment, agreed awards winner Eddie Andrew, the dairy farmer behind branded milk Our Cow Molly. Eddie and his team created a USP out of the freshness of their milk, allowing them to charge a premium and score lucrative local supply deals.
And with an estimated 170,000 new recruits needed over the next few years, the industry needs to ensure it shouts louder and prouder about all this innovation.