We had the great pleasure of hosting a leadership group from Florida this week. This was the 10th rural leadership group from the Wedgworth Leadership Institute in Florida. They had already travelled to Swaziland and for this leg, were meeting farmers and rural businesses in Scotland.
I have personally joined Scottish Enterprise, making such trips before and find them more than just rewarding. This particular group were highly energised and it was interesting to discover how many issues we all shared. Their climate is very different and their crops extremely so. However, farming is an industry that has to navigate choppy seas. Thrown in different directions by currency, global prices, politics, pests and environmental change can make a farmer feel that he is always having to be reactive to what life has thrown at him/her. Not this lot.
We had a fascinating conversation about citrus production. Here, the main problem is Citrus Greening Disease, spread by tiny winged insects and it has no cure. This disease prevents nutrient uptake. The industry is not profitable at present and is in considerable despondency, but the farmers and agronomists in this group saw this as an opportunity. We discussed KORE (our cloud-based precision farming toolbox for revolutionising land management) and potential precision farming strategies to combat the issue. I hope that some of the strategies succeed and some impact is made on this disease (which has now spread to California too). Almost every crop has its Achilles heel. For those fascinated by agriculture and improving what we do, they are a challenge, unfortunately for some, they can be devastating. That is what drives us to keep trying to do our bit to help.