UK agri-food industry looks to technology to overcome climate change and sustainability challenges

UK agri-food industry looks to technology to overcome climate change and sustainability challenges
Published: April 22, 2024

Production with sustainability in mind is top of the list of current technologies and future trends that agriculture and food industries businesses want to explore to support their business, with four in ten (40%) saying they want to explore opportunities for sustainable production technologies. One in five (21%) in the sector is keen to explore net-zero technologies, and a further 21% are interested in circular economy technologies. 

There is a raft of existing and emerging agri-tech solutions that are being designed and developed to drive more sustainable food production, including vertical farming, biotechnologies, zero tillage, robotics and automation, and more efficient waste management solutions to name just a few. 

Overall, four in ten (40%) agri-industries businesses say it is a business priority to become more sustainable in the next five years, and one in four (25%) say it’s a priority to implement measures to adapt to climate change.

The future of UK agri-tech

Nearly one in three (32%) innovation and technology decision makers in UK agriculture and food businesses say that carbon emissions and greenhouse gases will be a major challenge for their business over the next five years.

A third of business leaders in the sector (33%) also feel that implementing sustainable input sourcing will be a major challenge, followed by 28% who say adapting to climate change will be a significant challenge between now and 2029.

The findings are from a new report that surveyed 200 R&D and technology decision-makers in the agriculture and food industries commissioned by UK Agri-Tech Centre, the UK’s largest dedicated agri-tech organisation. 

The report outlines the challenges the agri-food industries face as a result of overcoming the impacts of climate change and in meeting the UK government’s targets for cutting emissions by 2030. It also shines a light on how agri-tech  – technologies focused on the agri-industries – solutions are needed to overcome these critical issues and protect our food production and food security.

Agri-tech solutions to sustainability challenges

Case study: Dancing with Daffodils project reduces livestock methane emissions

Preliminary results have found that livestock methane emissions can be significantly reduced and the efficiency of feed protein utilisation can be boosted by 50% by using an alkaloid from UK-grown daffodils to develop an innovative feed additive. This would lead to increased productivity of the UK’s ruminant livestock sector, a reduction in the production of greenhouse gases, and improvement in the sustainability of UK farming by reducing the requirement for high-protein imported feeds. UK Agri-Tech Centre is a partner in the Dancing with Daffodils project. 

Case study: Sustainably cultivating new protein source crops with vertical farming

UK Agri-Tech Centre has been supporting the VIP Leaf project which aims to harness the potential of vertical farming to cultivate amaranth – a crop that has been overlooked by growers in the UK but is rich in antioxidants. By using amaranth to develop a novel protein source, it is hoped to reduce the UK’s imports of proteins such as soy and pea from overseas, benefiting the environment as well as improving consumer health and contributing to the UK economy. The project has been led by Vertical Future in collaboration with University of York and UK Agri-Tech Centre.

If you have any questions about either of these case studies on sustainability or general enquiries about UK Agri-Tech Centre, please contact