Value add from data in UK agriculture, Mar 2022

Investment in ‘upstream’ agriculture technologies continues to gather pace, with a 68% increase year on year in 2020 to $15.8BN globally, according to AgFunder. Within this figure the UK accounted for $1.1BN only fourth to the USA, China and India, and leading the European nations despite Brexit uncertainties at the time. Investment funding is predicted to continue growing in areas of resource efficiency technology and profitability optimization at the farm level, together with UK government policy drives towards moving monitoring and payments online for farms. How does this translate in practical terms for UK farms?

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Drive to 'online' – In the round, one can point to numerous government initiatives that impact farmers and push / encourage farms to move their farm management information online, for example:

  • Making Tax Digital - tax returns must now be made digitally as part of a drive for all taxable information (eg. Income tax, Corporate tax) to be digital

  • New Environmental Schemes - the first of which, Sustainable Farming Initiative, requires review of the agreement and acceptance all to be online

  • Countryside Stewardship Scheme - requires online application

Online opportunities for farms - The opportunity presented by this push to move online is that there are now available numerous web based platforms to enable farms to record necessary information and update the information online, ready for inspections; rather than have to spend a lot of time digging around for out of date paperwork in the farm office. There are numerous options available to farms, and the Farm Online Record Management Platform (FORM) from Demand Economics has been designed with farmers to be a simple and comprehensive way to keep and update all information required for compliance and red tractor inspections, and because it is online, it is always kept up to date unlike paper versions.

Jeff Powell from Little Ash Farms in Oxfordshire helped with the original design of the FORM platform and stores all key farm records online, saying "The system is really simple to use and easily allows me to record exactly what I need for the Red Tractor Inspections. It saves me a lot of time and effort by keeping all the records in one place and means that I can easily add entries at the time that I make the field application. The inspection visits are now much smoother!"

Adam Donaldson of Demand Economics says "In addition to the ease of use of the platform and the fact that it is online thus never out of date, it has been really important to develop the capability at a fee that is significantly better value for money for farms during what is undoubtedly going to be a bumpy few years ahead". Contact Adam on 07907 581094 to discuss in more detail, with absolutely no obligations.

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