But it’s not the birds that will be silenced, it’s the people.

For the last fifty years chemicals and farming have been uneasy bedfellows. Talk to my grandfather’s generation and their introduction revolutionised food production, increasing yields, reducing the risk of disease and helping solve food shortages. But since the publication of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” in 1962, the agriculture and chemical industries have been under attack for doing irreparable damage to our natural environment.

Not a pretty picture is it? The never ending chase for cheaper food versus the decline in songbird numbers and the diffuse pollution in our drinking water.

When I think of my own fields which have been passed down through generations I’m really glad I’ve gone down the precision farming route. Like most farmers I have a passion for my land, I love the place and I want to be able to pass it on to my sons in good time. So the fact I know that any chemicals that are used are done so with great exactitude and thought is very important to me.  Nothing wasted, nothing scattered without cause.

But I believe this isn’t the only “Silent Spring”, the farming industry is facing. Over the last twenty years I’ve watched a skilled rural workforce disappear and the agri reps who would come in about every farmyard are thin on the ground these days. Each farm, once a small community of its own, is now a much more automated, solitary business and as the age of the robot advances, this isolation can only increase.

This past year there was a trial with a single ha of combinable crop being grown without human intervention. The question is not; do we want this technology? Or will this technology become widespread? But when will it become widespread and how will it leave us as a society without that human interaction?

Involved as I am with an agri business built on technology, I’m aware we carry an acute responsibility for this change and it’s not one that we carry lightly. The debate of how to develop technology in a human way is very much active and should be at the forefront of all our minds.

In the meantime, however, I’m a Robert not a robot and I’m here, like everyone at SoilEssentials, to help you with your business on a very personal level.  We will always strive to be the human face of precision farming and are as happy chatting in your farmyard as on the end of a phone. So don’t be shy, give us a call. We’re always ready to be simply human.

05 March 2018 Latest from the Directors

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Dave Robertson, Stackpole Farms
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