Event Date
S. Kendall presenting at REAP

At this years Agri-Tech E REAP Conference, Sarah Kendall, ADAS Crop Physiologist joined a panel consisting of Matthew Smith (Scientific Technologies) and Macelo Galdos (Rothamsted Research) to discuss how the digital world is informing and guiding the developments and decisions in the real world – ranging from digital twins to predictive models, from platforms to help with scenario planning to the use of AI and machine learning to yield unprecedented insights into the future of agriculture and horticulture.

Sarah's thoughts are below:

Farmers are faced with lots of data & many decisions: How do they make sense of it all? Agriculture is a data rich industry, but from a farmers perspective they are faced with lots of data & lots of decisions. If we look at this on a national scale, we estimate that there are a quintillion decision-combinations that farmers can make across a million arable fields – this is a lot of decisions! Data provides a huge solution to aid this decision making process, to make it more accurate, optimized and justified, which is crucial at a time when our industry is faced with increasing input costs, chemical losses and a drive to reduce carbon emissions. Whilst many digital tools and solutions are evolving at a pace, farmers are still faced with an immediate challenge to really maximise the value of their data on-farm.

As researchers, we recognize the value of the ability of farmers to collect substantial amounts of data on-farm – and this can make a significant contribution to progressing our knowledge and understanding at a scientific level as an industry. We need to embrace the power of on-farm experimentation in being complimentary to more traditional research methods from lab to field scales, in that it provides a real-world, commercial setting. At ADAS, our Agronomics approach to provide scientific robustness to on-farm experiments has provided farmers with the ability to accurately understand the impact of different ‘treatments’ at field scales, whether this is testing the impact of fungicide products on yield through the BASF Real Results programme or using spectral reflectance data captured by drones to understand the usefulness of this data in vegetable and potato crops in projects such as the INNO-VEG project.

Finally, I think connectivity is key here and we shouldn’t just focus on data per se, but also the wealth of knowledge that is out there– if we look across our industry, knowledge is extremely fragmented and inaccessible,. We initiated the Yield Enhancment Network 10 years ago – which sought to understand variation in yields across commercial farms and support arable innovators. Together, we have seen real value from farmers sharing their data and benchmarking their performance against their peers to inform future decision making. Farm PEP.net has been developed and established as a web platform to connect across Agriculture. The platform aims to enable knowledge across farming to be shared, found, discussed, distilled and developed.  The Horizon Europe project IPM Decisions has developed a platform to act as a one-stop-shop for IPM decision support tools across Europe. Together, these examples along with many others across the industry will contribute to simplifying the quintillion decision-combinations. 

Related Organisations

Connected Content

ADAS provides ideas, specialist knowledge and solutions to secure our food and enhance the environment. We understand food production and the challenges and opportunities faced by organisations operating in the natural environment

Agriculture now generates vast amounts of data of different types and at different scales. The ownership, access, control, sharing, value, permissioning, intergration, security, safeguarding and sovereignty of this data represent multiple challenges and opportunities for the sector.


Yield Enhancement Networks (YENs) were launched in 2012 to support and energise on-farm learning-by-sharing and thus to enhance farming progress.

Agri-TechE is a business focused member organisation, supporting the growth of a world-leading network of innovative farmers, producers, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who share a vision of increasing the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture.

Agronomics is the science of understanding the variation in the cropped environment, identifying the management practices and system designs that work. It uses a farm centric approach of shared farm data and on-farm experimentation.

  Supporting farmers with robust design and analysis of on-farm experiments in tramline trials.

Farm-centric research generally involves On-Farm Experimentation and may be better described as 'Farm Action Research', i.e. research conducted at least in part by and for beneficiaries who also farm. 

On Farm Experimentation (OFE) is increasingly being recognised as having transformative power in improving performance in agricultural systems across the world.

Each year Agri-TechE brings together a series of agri-tech related events in a week in November, surrounding the REAP conference on the Tuesday.  REAP 2022 explores 'Making Sense of Agriculture'.

The development of Farm-PEP Performance Enhancement Partnerships to support on-farm knowledge generation through shared ideas, data and experimentation. Funded as part of Farming Innovation Pathways programme from Defra and Innovate UK Transforming Food Production.

The IPM Decisions project will create an online platform that is easy to use for the monitoring and management of pests. Access the platform now at https://platform.ipmdecisions.net/  

A range of digital technologies promise to transform agriculture, including sensing, robotics, artificial intelligence, wireless networks & IoT, big data, decision support tools, modelling, digital twins and precision farming. 

The INNO-VEG project aims to increase the speed and uptake of innovation in the field vegetable and potato sectors by: Defining and implementing a new approach for delivering cost-effective research. Establishing a cross border innovation network which will create the framework conditions for innovation to facilitate uptake of the new approach.

BASF Real Results Circle (https://basfrealresults.co.uk/) has been running since 2017, bringing together 50 farmers and supporting them to test decisions on-farm.