Moo-ve fast and break things: Farmers are finding tech talent crucial for business

Lynsey Barber
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Drones and GPS is just some of the technology being used in farming (Source: Getty)

Tech talent is becoming crucial for business, but its not just the hottest startups and forward thinking giants that are hankering after expertise.

Even farmers are finding it increasingly fundamental, new research reveals, with 61 per cent saying they believe technology will have an impact on their business over th next five years.

Three quarters said they would need more access to digital and technology skills and more than half to data and coding knowledge, a survey by McDonald's of UK farmers found.

Read more: Connected cows: An actually useful example of the Internet of Things

Some 81 per cent said access to the right skills is their top priority over the coming 12 months while 86 per cent said talent is crucial to making the £100bn a year UK farming industry globally competitive, according to the fast food firm's first Farm Forward Barometer.

“The farming industry is currently facing some big challenges but it’s encouraging to see that, despite this, farmers are being front-footed in their investment in technology and skills to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of producing great quality produce," said Connor McVeigh, supply chain director at McDonald's UK, which is expanding its young farmer training programme.

“As one of the biggest customers of British farming, we want to help the industry meet these challenges head on and thrive in future," he added.

Technology currently being used by farmers across the UK includes satellite mapping, GPS controlled machinery, predictive analytics, drones and robotics.

Read more: Seals with smartphones and three more animals embracing technology

“We’re using drones and GPS guidance to improve the timing and accuracy when we apply fertiliser to our crops. This increases yields, reduces waste and keeps both our carbon and water footprint at optimal levels for efficient food production," said Andrew Francis of Elveden Farm Estate which supplies potatoes to McDonald's.

"Technology skills are increasingly important as more of our monitoring, application machinery and grading equipment is digitally operated. We see the best results when we have people in place who understand technology and how to apply it.”

More than half of farmers plan to attract expertise from beyond the traditional farming industry.

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