Dorset hosts One Health conference on the future of farming

A NATIONAL conference held in Dorset aimed to strengthen links between business and science to promote more sustainable agriculture and food production.

The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Kingston Maurward College organized One Health 2022, which brought together over 60 decision-makers from academia, industry and government.

One Health is a globally recognized term for the interdependence between the health of humans, animals, plants and natural ecosystems.

The event looked at how this could inform innovation in the field of agricultural technology, or agritech.

It saw the launch of a one-year programme, the One Health Nucleus Pilot, to support companies already involved or wishing to develop projects linked to the One Health Agenda.

Opening the conference, Dorset LEP Chair Cecilia Bufton said: “We have the ambition to make Dorset a One Health hub, within a sustainable and commercial One Health regional powerhouse, contributing to a supply green and clean world in the UK.

Luke Rake, Chief Executive and Director of Kingston Maurward, is the One Health lead on the LEP Board. He said recent investments in college facilities would support agritech skills regionally and nationally.

He compared Dorset to a ‘living laboratory’ for One Health and agritech, citing the development of the campus’s university center and rural business centre. It is planned to incubate and accelerate 40 high-value, clean-growth rural businesses by 2030.

The supposed LEP projects at Dorset Innovation Park in Winfrith Newburgh have been hailed for energizing the agritech hub.

Among those making presentations was DraperGROUP, headquartered in the Innovation Park, which provides sustainable temperature control systems for animal production.

Approximately 500 poultry houses nationwide use its renewable heating systems and equipment.

Lucy Cullinane, COO of Efeca, highlighted efforts to ensure deforestation-free supply of supermarket produce. Efeca operates from Bournemouth and Dorchester, providing advice on sustainable natural resource sourcing to businesses, governments and non-governmental organisations.

Adam Smith, managing director of research and development company Intrepid Minds, also based in the innovation park, showcased its latest 5G-enabled automated tractor technology.

Professor Matthew Upton from the University of Plymouth described advances in how vaccines can tackle antimicrobial resistance to improve agricultural production.

Keynote speakers who encouraged the growth of the sector were Professor Guy Poppy from the University of Southampton and Professor Mick Fuller from the University of Plymouth.

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