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‘Open data can identify new opportunities to farm more sustainably’

In light of Prof Sir Ian Boyd’s urge for half of the UK farmland to be given to nature, Andre Laperrière, executive director of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), commented that a fine balance is needed to harbour agricultural and environmental growth

“The recent news in which Prof Sir Ian Boyd has called for half of the UK’s farmland to be transformed into natural habitat for animals has certainly sent shockwaves across the agriculture industries, however, it is important that this is used as a platform to strike a fine balance which harbours both agricultural and environmental growth,” Laperrière said.

“According to Boyd, half of the UK’s farmland produces just 20 per cent of the UK’s food and as a result, can be put to better use. This can bring about many environmental advantages which will allow for more trees to grow and help produce cleaner air. This could benefit farmers who can be paid to help grow such trees as well as other sustainable practices. However, it should not be disregarded that with a growing population and changing dietary demands, the UK will need to ensure it has as much land available to feed the public and as a result, has sometimes come at the cost of the environment,” Laperrière added.

“Therefore, this means that a balance needs to be achieved. This is where open data can become pivotal in helping achieve a more prosperous environment and industry. Data sharing helps improve knowledge, understanding and innovation and will help in achieving ways to maximise the land’s potential.”

“By incorporating open data into these farmers will be able to identify new opportunities and ways to farm more sustainably whilst also achieving food security. However, it will require the collaboration of all key policymakers and industry figures in order to do this.”