AgroEcoTech Webinar: How can technology accelerate a transition to agroecology?

Soil Association

Join us to discuss the opportunities and challenges around AgroEcoTech, and how policy can support its development


About this event

Join the Soil Association team and an expert panel to discuss AgroEcoTech and the National Food Strategy’s innovation challenge in this virtual event where we will discuss:
  1. How can agri-food tech development be repurposed for agroecological systems?
  2. How can farmer-led ‘problem definition’ help drive this?
  3. What are the governance levers in a market economy and who are the gatekeepers?
  4. How can Defra’s £280m innovation fund rise to the NFS challenge to deliver for agroecology and farmer-led innovation?
Professor Tom Macmillan (Royal Agricultural University) will lead the conversation with panellists including Joseph Gridley (Director, Soil Association Exchange) Tim Mordan (Deputy Director, Defra’s Innovation, Productivity and Science team); Andy Cureton (UKRI Challenge Deputy Director, Transforming Food Production); George Chanarin and Paul Silcock (Cumulus Consultants , authors of the AgroEcoTech: How can Technology Accelerate a Transition to Agroecology? )Abby Rose (farmer and tech entrepreneur -Vidacycle and SectorMentor ); and Dr Ruth Bastow (Innovation Director, CHAP)

This will be followed by a Q&A. We welcome questions before the event (email [email protected])

The event will be held online via Teams Webinar. Advanced booking is essential. Joining links will be shared 1 week prior to the event taking place.
If you have any questions about the event, please email Ana Allamand ([email protected])


The National Food Strategy has set out a 3-compartment model for farming in the UK, which envisages a major role for low-intensity, agroecological farming alongside high-intensity farming that is still underpinned by agroecological principles. The Strategy calls for a £1bn investment in innovation for a better food system.

Specifically, on the £280m Defra Agricultural Transition Plan innovation fund, it states that “It is crucial that Defra sees through this promise to take a farmer-led approach, and backs innovation across the full spectrum of regenerative farming: not just high-tech new ideas (important though these are), but also the agroecological methods that have been starved of investment up to now. It should draw on the experience of successful independent initiatives such as Innovative Farmers...”
What does this new agroecological transition challenge mean for technology development? The Soil Association, with the help of an expert advisory group, commissioned research from Cumulus Consultants that examined opportunities and risks for agroecological farming associated with emerging tech. The report suggests that a whole new generation of technologies, especially in robotics and remote sensing and AI, could help farmers manage complexity and support them to farm in a more ecological, regenerative way. Digital food hubs and dynamic food procurement could build markets for the produce of more ecological farming. However, there are no ‘silver bullet’ technologies and knowledge and system-based innovation, with farmers in the driving seat, are of fundamental importance. The report suggested some principles for tech governance to maximise alignment with agroecology.

Understanding how new technologies can support the implementation of agroecological and regenerative practices; and how to create an ecosystem in which these technologies can thrive will be essential in the coming years if we are to tackle the challenges posed by climate change and the biodiversity crisis while managing to feed a growing global population.

CHAP Webinar - Innovative tools to overcome the challenges of Regen Ag

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Applying principles of regen ag can incur a range of on-farm challenges. Learn how innovative tools & machinery can help with these hurdles.

This event will be held online from 1pm to 2pm on Thursday 2nd December 2021 so please block it out in your diary.

About this event​