A new strategic alliance of industry innovators has been formed to accelerate the identification and development of new technologies to help growers adapt to the challenges of crop production in the future. Charlotte Cunningham reports.

AD4PT brings together machinery specialist Horsch, crop protection organisation Adama, plant breeder DSV and adjuvant and biostimulant experts Interagro, with the vision of challenging conventional thinking and testing new approaches.

If ever there was a time to reflect on the challenges now faced by growers and food producers, the last year has been it, says Adama UK product manager Alison Hall.

“With extreme weather events and the global COVID-19 pandemic to deal with, in addition to the ongoing drive towards more sustainable production, the need for growers to adapt to the new environment for food production has never been greater.

“Acceleration in the effects of climate change, increasing weed, pest and disease resistance, regulatory challenges and environmental pressures on farmers, means building resilience and adaptability into production systems is now an absolute necessity.

“All the companies involved in AD4PT believe passionately that technology, and in particular the integration of best practice techniques, has a major role to play in helping growers meet the future demands placed on them whilst benefiting the wider global community.”

The 4 pillars of AD4PT

According to Sarah Ferrie, marketing manager for Interagro, AD4PT is underpinned by 4 key pillars – partnership, protection, performance and progress – which the stakeholder companies believe are key to the future of efficient, sustainable and profitable farming.

“Partnerships is all about pooling expertise, knowledge, resources and innovations to deliver a collaborative focus on soil, seed and crop protection with a vision to help growers embrace new approaches, adopt new technologies and make smarter investments.

“Protection involves looking at various variety traits, establishment methods, and crop protection/adjuvant combinations to identify the best approaches to protect crops from pests, weeds and diseases.

“Performance is more than looking at the traditional benchmarks of yield and quality and taking this towards performance in the field and factoring in all true input costs to help growers optimise their profitability, and ultimately, sustainability.

“Progress means working together to find practical solutions and innovative combinations of new thinking/technologies that can help producers overcome future production issues.”

The initiative already has a trials site established in Notts with initial work looking at cultivations, varieties and companion cropping, biostimulants, weed and disease control programmes with and without adjuvants.

Knowledge transfer

Sarah Hawthorne of DSV UK says the intention is to combine traditional face-to-face communication with modern learning opportunities to help as many people benefit from AD4PT thinking.

“We’ve all learned a lot in recent weeks about how knowledge transfer can be accelerated through the use of new technology and it’s very much our intention to integrate online conferencing, webinars, virtual plot tours and video presentations whilst using social media and other digital media.

“We’ll also be focusing on more traditional communication routes including regular newsletters and a series of (post COVID-19) AD4PT open days is now being planned.

“These will focus on a range of key agronomy topics, including the findings of our first wave of trials, and give visitors an opportunity to talk to experts involved in the initiative.”

Growers wanting to follow the initiative can do so using the Twitter handle @Ad4ptAg.