THE role which cutting edge technology will play in arable farming was the hot topic at Nafferton Farm this week.

Co-hosted by Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and Newcastle University, the farm’s first Technical Day demonstrated to local farmers and industry leaders the effects of new technological approaches by showing them in action.

One of these methods was a project called SolAGE, by LEAF and lecturer in soil science Dr Julia Cooper, who has been working to develop microbial inoculants containing combinations of strains of bacteria and fungi, which in the future could be a environmentally friendly method used to enhance crop growth. These living organisms can be added to the soil and live in close relationships with the crops, even penetrating their roots, but without damaging the crop itself.

Senior lecturer of agriculture at Newcastle University, Dr Paul Bilsburrow, discussed expanding the currently ‘very minimal’ UK market for organic crop growers, and showed attendees some of the 67 potato variables grown at Nafferton which have been selected as being suitable for organic production as inspiration.

Dr Ankush Prashar also showed audience the technological approaches being used for crop phenotyping, and how they could be used for stress monitoring crops and crop management.

Director of Newcastle University’s two farms James Standen said: “The aim is to show farmers how they can integrate this technology into farm management. It is telling them that this is here to help make your life easier, save you money and will have an important part to play in the future of farming.”