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Lack of knowledge stopping farmers from investing in agri-technology

Less than a fifth of farmers plan to invest in agri-tech, including autonomous machinery, this year.

Lack of knowledge and access to finance is stopping farmers investing in agri-technology, according to a new survey.

The research, carried out by by rural insurer NFU Mutual to coincide with the launch of its 2022 Agri-Tech Report, found 46.2% of respondents say lack of knowledge was holding them back from investing in agri-tech on their farms.

The second biggest obstacle was lack of access to finance – cited by 29.8% of respondents – followed by uncertainty about the future, which was cited by 17.1% of those taking part in the survey.

The survey also found just under half of farmers – 49.6% – of farmers would consider using autonomous agricultural vehicles on their farms, however only 13.9% said they were planning to invest in agri-tech this year.

“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,” said NFU Mutual’s farm insurance specialist, Charlie Yorke.

“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farmers that they could make the wrong tech-choice for their farm and end up with an expensive system that becomes outdated quickly.”

He said farmers needed to work with their peers, system suppliers and agricultural colleges to ensure 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,” added Mr Yorke.

NFU Mutual non-executive director Ali Capper, who runs a hops and fruit enterprise at Stocks Farm on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border, encouraged her peers to consider investment in agri-tech.

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.”

NFU Mutual’s agri-tech report, which includes guidance for farmers contemplating investment in new technology, is available online at nfumutual.co.uk/campaigns/agri-tech-report

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