Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Oxford Farming Conference 2013

Well, where do I start, a fantastic start to the New Year for me, being asked to present a paper at this years Oxford Farming Conference.  It was in fact my first visit to the Conference, held annually in the grand setting of the Oxford Examination Hall.  My talk formed part of the morning session of day two, entitled 'Technology and Innovation".  The first session started with Maurice Maloney, Director and Head of Research at Rothamsted talking about the genetic potential of wheat and where yield improvements will come from in the future.  Following Maurice was Mark Smith, Global Bovine Product Development and Production Director at Genus.  Mark spoke about how breeding genetics have increased yields of meat and milk, from cows and pigs over the past 40 years. Marks presentation can be found here After Mark it was my turn!  My subject was "Will Precision Farming Change The Face of UK Agriculture?"
If you are interested you can watch the presentation HERE and see the video I played HERE I was quite nervous for a few days before the actual talk and especially watching the two speakers before me.  But after a couple of paragraphs I started to relax and other than a few tongue twisters I managed to get through it on schedule and I have to admit I was rather pleased, and very relieved.
One highlight for me was the Frank Parkinson Lecture, given my Mark Lynus.  Mark was one of the original GM protesters of the mid 1995, wearing white spray suits ripping up GM trials.  His first paragraph was an apology to the farming audience for this behaviour and that it helped set back the ability of the E.U. and U.K. agricultural industry to explore the use of GM technology in crop growing.  Mark's lecture can be read here and I have to say that he showed great courage to stand up and give an apology as he did.
Another highlight of the previous day was meeting Princess Anne with members of the LEAF team.  We spoke about Open Farm Sunday, being a LEAF Demonstration Farm and the benefits of getting children out onto farm to learn about the way food in produced and how me manage and look after the countryside.  Her Royal Highness was very knowledgeable and we had great a conversation for 5 minutes. 
I really enjoyed the atmosphere at the conference and it was a great place to meet fellow farmers, agriculturists and others from allied industries.  I would highly recommend it to others next year, but you will need to book early as tickets are rapidly snapped up.

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