Did you know that in 2015 alone, the UK had £13million worth of food waste that could have been eaten? £13 million. It’s horrific, isn’t it and sadly, according to WRAP, the waste and recycling advisory body, any attempts to improve this appear to have stalled.
I know myself when I open up the fridge at home and look at what’s mouldering in the crisper that we as a family don’t always help that statistic and I’m a farmer who’s growing the stuff, for goodness sake!
So what do we, as food producers, do to help improve these grim statistics? Obviously there’s no magic bullet and action needs to be taken all the way down the food chain (probably starting with our fridge), but what has buoyed me up in the midst of this “rotten” debate is the remarkable progress and possibilities emerging in the world of precision agriculture.
We all know that the consumer wants to pick up beautiful consistent produce that cooks easily and tastes fantastic. But delivering on that promise when every product is different with varying degrees of care required has been far from easy…at least so far.
But what if I told you that precision agriculture could help you deliver that sweet tender pea, that crisp carrot or that succulent raspberry, again and again and again, on demand, at the times that you need it. Seem like a pipe dream, well think again!
The guess work is coming out of fieldwork; fertilisers, pesticides and limes are being applied only where required. The physical, chemical and biological properties of soils are being mapped and understood. Applications will soon be made by robotic machines (I hesitate to say driverless tractors). Drones and satellites are measuring crop growth reporting discrepancies and forecasting yields. Then all of this means that quality and harvest dates are relayed up the supply chain to ensure demand is managed to meet supply. Bingo!
These are the small efficiencies that will make the difference. The difference that will mean we can supply top quality produce without a leaving a trail of waste behind it and a trail of guilt too!