Farming News - Lack of knowledge holding farmers back from investing in agri-tech, NFU Mutual survey reveals

Lack of knowledge holding farmers back from investing in agri-tech, NFU Mutual survey reveals

Hot on the heels of the government’s latest round of grants to help farmers in England purchase high-tech machinery to improve productivity and the environment, an NFU Mutual survey* has revealed lack of knowledge is holding farmers back when it comes to agri-tech.

NFU Mutual found almost half (46.2%) of survey respondents said lack of knowledge was holding them back from investing in agri-tech on their farms. Lack of access to finance was the second highest reason limiting respondents (29.8%), followed by uncertainty about the future (17.1%) and supply chain difficulties (6.8%).

Conducted to accompany the leading rural insurer’s 2022 Agri-tech Report published today (Monday 24 January), the survey also revealed that just under half of farmers responding (46.9%) would consider using autonomous agricultural vehicles on their farm, while 13.9% said they were planning to invest in agri-tech this year.

Charlie Yorke, Farm Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Technology is set to revolutionise farming, increase productivity and help move UK agriculture towards its goal of being carbon neutral by 2040. 

“While many farmers are open to using technology, lack of understanding of new technologies and the investment they entail, means they are hesitating to take the plunge. Understandably, there’s a real fear amongst farmers that they could make the wrong tech-choice for their farm and end up with an expensive system that becomes outdated quickly.

“To make the right investment, farmers need to work closely with system suppliers, leading agricultural colleges, and other farmers to make sure they make the best decisions for their business.

“Holding back runs the risk of falling behind as global competition increases and UK farming support changes.”

Ali Capper, an NFU Mutual Non-Executive Director and agri-tech pioneer at Stocks Farm on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border, highlighted the environmental benefits of using innovation. She said: “We must all have the climate change agenda at the heart of what we do and the decisions we make.

“The good news is that many agri-tech innovations will help us to be kinder to the farmed environment as well as more efficient and profitable.

“To achieve long-term sustainability and reduce fossil fuel use, at Stocks Farm we have adopted a whole-of-farm approach to growing, pest control, and picking automation.”

Covering the latest agri-tech developments from poultry house automation, vertical farming, and non-fossil fuel use, to robotic tractor developments, the NFU Mutual Agri-tech Report provides insight, expert views and case studies to help farmers explore opportunities for the future.

Aimed to help farmers understand the opportunities and risks ahead, the report can be downloaded from NFU Mutual’s website:

NFU Mutual advice for farmers contemplating agri-tech investment

  • Review the farm’s long-term strategy and then identify how technology and the use of detailed data could help you achieve your goals
  • Explore technology systems which integrate not only with your farm’s activities but also your supply chain
  • Keep up to date with developments and ensure you have the management skills to adopt technology and successfully master the opportunities
  • Consider working with other farms, as cooperation can help achieve economies of scale both in the use of new technology and the adoption of farmer-friendly supply chains
  • Understand the potential risks and knock-on effects that new technology can cause and the solutions to mitigate these

* NFU Mutual conducted the survey on Twitter from 5th-8th January 2022 and asked the following questions:

What's holding you back from investing in agri-tech? (409 votes)

  • Lack of knowledge - 46.2%
  • Access to finances - 29.8%
  • Uncertainty about future - 17.1%
  • Supply chain difficulties - 6.8%

Would you consider using autonomous agricultural vehicles on your farm? (418 votes)

  • Yes - 46.9%
  • No - 53.1%

Do you plan to invest in agri-tech this year? (439 votes)

  • Yes - 13.9%
  • No - 86.1%