ON-FARM technology was at the heart of the discussion at the first Poultry Research Seminar held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) last month.

The event was designed to bring farmers and academics together to bridge the gap between ‘the farm gate and the research lab’, and help educate poultry farmers on the latest technology and how it can help them improve their productivity, animal welfare and efficiency.

While the poultry sector is known as being at the forefront of embracing new technology in agriculture – with with robotics, genetics and data monitoring all playing a major role in enhancing productivity – farmers were encouraged by NFU poultry board chairman Thomas Wornham to avoid “resting on their laurels” and instead remain up to date with new methods where they can.

Mr Wornham did admit however that important research was not always made easily accessible for farmers – and that he hoped through more seminars such as these a continual dialogue could be opened between academics and farmers which could mutually benefit each other.

Mr Wornham said: “Unfortunately, it is an all too familiar story that new and exciting research simply does not reach farmers. That is what this seminar was all about.

“By working together, we can help ensure that all farmers can practically use new advice and even be test farms for exciting new projects.

“I want future research to be relevant and able to be incorporated on farm, offering much more value to the farmer.

“However, this is only one strand and Government has its part to play too. It is vital that the Agriculture Bill gives farmers the tools and confidence to invest in new technology and innovate their businesses.

“That will help farmers continue doing what they do best – producing safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.”

Researchers who addressed the seminar included Dr Lynn McIntyre from Harper Adams University who discussed the sensor-based methods used to assess the campylobacter status of broiler chicken flocks; Dr Marie Kirby from Harper Adams University who took to the floor with information on a novel valorisation method for chicken manure; and Dr Siobhan Mullan from Bristol University who discussed the development of a new app which helps store farmers’ welfare data.