Farming News - UK agri-food industry looks to technology to address climate change and sustainability challenges

UK agri-food industry looks to technology to address climate change and sustainability challenges

  • Nearly one in three agri-industries businesses say carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are a key challenge 
  • Adapting to climate change is a business priority for one in four businesses in the sector


Nearly one in three (32%) innovation and technology decision makers in UK agriculture and food businesses say that carbon emissions and greenhouse gases will be a major challenge for their business over the next five years. A third of business leaders in the sector (33%) also feel that implementing sustainable input sourcing will be a major challenge, followed by 28% who say adapting to climate change will be a significant challenge between now and 2029.

The findings are from a new Report that surveyed 200 R&D and technology decision makers in the agriculture and food industries commissioned by the UK Agri-Tech Centre*, the UK’s largest dedicated agri-tech organisation. 

The report outlines the challenges the agri-food industries face as a result of overcoming the impacts of climate change and in meeting the UK government’s targets for cutting emissions by 2030. It also shines a light on how agri-tech innovation and technology focused on the agri-industries - solutions are needed to overcome these critical issues including food security. 

Agri-tech solutions to sustainability challenges

Technologies for sustainable production are top of the list of current technologies and future trends that agriculture and food industries businesses want to explore to support their business, with four in ten (40%) saying they want to explore opportunities for sustainable production technologies. One in five (21%) in the sector are keen to explore Net-Zero technologies, and a further 21% are interested in circular economy technologies. 

There is a raft of existing and emerging agri-tech solutions that are being designed and developed to drive more sustainable food production, including vertical farming, biotechnologies, zero tillage, robotics and automation, and more efficient waste management solutions. 

Overall, four in ten (40%) agri-industries businesses say it is a business priority to become more sustainable in the next five years, and one in four (25%) say it's a priority to implement measures to adapt to climate change. 

Case study: Dancing with Daffodils project reduces livestock methane emissions 

Preliminary results have found that livestock methane emissions can be significantly reduced and the efficiency of feed protein utilisation can be boosted by 50% by using an alkaloid from UK-grown daffodils to develop an innovative feed additive. This could lead to increased productivity of the UK’s ruminant livestock sector, a reduction in the production of greenhouse gases, and improvement in the sustainability of UK farming by reducing the requirement for high-protein imported feeds. The UK Agri-Tech Centre is a partner in the Dancing with Daffodils project

Case study: Sustainably cultivating new protein source crops with vertical farming

The UK Agri-Tech Centre has been supporting the VIP Leaf project which aims to harness the potential of vertical farming to cultivate amaranth – a crop that has been overlooked by growers in the UK but is rich in antioxidants. By using amaranth to develop a novel protein source, it is hoped to reduce the UK’s imports of proteins such as soy and pea from overseas, benefiting the environment as well as improving consumer health and contributing to the UK economy. The project has been led by Vertical Future in collaboration with University of York and the UK Agri-Tech Centre. 

Phil Bicknell, CEO of the UK Agri-Tech Centre, said: “The sector’s innovation and technology leaders recognise how agri-tech can unlock solutions to climate change, food security and sustainability challenges facing the agriculture and food sector. Improving sustainability is at the heart of many agri-tech developers’ missions. Agri-tech businesses are pioneering and rolling out technologies and tools for reducing emissions and waste, driving more sustainable inputs and processes, and building resilient systems to improve our food security. 

“At the UK Agri-Tech Centre, we are strengthening the connections between science, businesses and funders to accelerate research and development that overcomes the agri-food industry’s most critical challenges, including climate change and sustainability. We believe that responsible agri-tech innovation can ultimately secure the UK’s future supply of food, fuel and fibres and stimulate economic growth.”