It's increasingly accepted that we need more production and that has to be done more sustainably. I think growth areas will be sensor technology, the use of big data and engineering, and there'll be much greater engagement with industry.
Professor Les Firbank is an agro-ecologist based at the University of Leeds, whose research addresses the sustainable intensification of agriculture in a time of climate change. Raised on a small farm in northern England, Professor Firbank developed a strong interest in the interactions between farming and the environment, studying for a degree in Zoology before moving into the field of sustainable agriculture, where his early work focused on weeds and crops. He has held positions at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, where he led large scale studies on the environmental effects of organic farming and GM crops, and North Wyke Research, where he developed the concept of an intensive, farm-scale research platform to look at the mechanisms underpinning sustainable farming. Professor Firbank’s current work focuses on addressing the sustainable intensification of agriculture in a time of climate change, and he is developing the University of Leeds Farm as a testbed for research, innovation, and knowledge exchange. He has also led the development of protocols for ecological monitoring within the EU ExpeER project, and has recently been a Director of Assured Food Standards.