HEREFORDSHIRE MEP Anthea McIntrye says she’s continuing to push the EU agenda on agri-tech with two high-profile events in the European Parliament.

She co-hosted a forum on The Future of Farming which brought together experts in Brussels to explore the sector’s challenges and opportunities.

And she also took part in a panel examining The Impact of Regulation on Agricultural Innovation.

Contributors at the Future of Farming event included Professor Simon Blackmore of Harper Adams University, Shropshire, and Edwin Hecker of the Internet of Food and Farm 2020.

They spoke about the benefits of precision agriculture, while further panels and round-tables covered new plant-breeding techniques, societal challenges, and how new technology could improve farming systems.

The MEP from Ross-on-Wye was well-placed to contribute to both events after producing a report on Technological Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture, adopted by the EU Parliament last year.

She said: “These events highlighted areas where effective harnessing of innovation will boost productivity while protecting the environment and biodiversity.

"But I also had to warn that badly thought-out regulation could be the enemy of progress. I stressed the innovation principle – that regulation must always allow research and enterprise to drive innovation by using genuine science-based evidence in evaluating risk and benefit.

“This is where precision farming and information technology come in – improving soil-health and water management, precision livestock farming, precision breeding and even precision entomology.

“While the use of standard equipment with precision-farming techniques can prove beneficial, it is only with the development of what are called ‘disruptive’ technologies that real gains can be made.

“These are developments such as laser weed-killing systems and second-generation drones, capable of undertaking field tasks rather than simply capturing images.”