Innovative technology and its use in farming and food production made for a lively conversation between Programme Leader and HE Course Manager in Agriculture Mark Biddulph and presenter Des Machin on our local community radio station ‘The Cat’.

Broadcast during Des’ regular Thursday afternoon business programme, the interview covered topics such as industry specific apps, the use of drones for field mapping and lean management, a systematic method of streamlining businesses to make them more profitable.

Describing the broad range of technology topics which are incorporated into the degrees delivered by University Centre Reaseheath, Mark told listeners: “All businesses grow, change and adapt. When we asked future employers what skills our graduates needed, the response was that technology skills and training in time management, people management and business systems were very important. We have worked with our industry partners to make sure that our graduates have these skills and are work ready.

“Many of our agriculture students are interested in technology and where it may take them in their future careers. It’s fascinating to see how the latest technology is being integrated and put to good use in so many aspects of farming.”

Mark went on to describe how tailormade apps are regularly used by farmers on a global scale, for instance in India, where a farmer can identify pests and diseases in crops by comparing them to photos and descriptions on a phone. If that failed, a photo could be sent to an expert for identification and help.

Mark, whose family has a dairy farm and whose specialism is agricultural mechanisation, also talked about the complex machinery and drone technology used by large scale producers. Reaseheath agriculture students had been on a study tour to Iowa, USA this year and would visit Toronto, Canada, in 2018 to see this technology first-hand.

He also described a lean management project which is just being completed on Reaseheath’s commercial farm. This had meant the collection of data on all aspects of the business followed by detailed analysis of output. From this it would be possible to select small achievable changes which, once implemented, would eliminate waste and increase productivity.

Listen to Mark’s interview here:

The Cat broadcasts to Crewe, Nantwich and the surrounding rural areas. Listen on 107.9 FM and online