'Changing how we live our lives': Teagasc to host virtual conference this February

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Teagasc to host virtual conference on digital potential of a sustainable natural economy

It will take place via a webinar on February 9

The role of digital in securing a green rural economy is the focus of a joint virtual conference being held by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Teagasc.

The potential of digitalisation to achieve a sustainable natural economy, which is the third in a series of annual events, will take place via a webinar on February 9.

It will bring perspectives and insights on the role of digital technologies to secure a green recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, and Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc director, will jointly chair the event which will include four 15-minute sessions delivered by researchers from both institutions along with an open discussion.

In the first session, Professor Donagh Berry, from Teagasc and VistaMilk, will talk about value-creating decision support tools. This will be followed by a presentation on the digitalisation of the Dairy Value Chain by Professor Richard Dewhurst, head of the Dairy Research Centre at SRUC.

Dr Hannah Rudman, senior challenge research fellow and data policy lead at SRUC, will show how new technology is being deployed in the natural economy sector and the real benefits it achieves. Dr John Hyland, from Teagasc, will talk about delivering farm advisory services in the digital age.

“We are living in a time of immense technological transformation, which is changing how we live our lives," Prof Powell said.

“Science and technology are unearthing solutions that can help tackle food security, energy shortages and climate change. “This virtual webinar conference provides an opportunity for Scotland and Ireland to showcase how digital solutions can be used to secure a sustainable natural economy, which is part of our vision for the future.”

Professor Boyle said: “The challenge of our times for organisations like SRUC and Teagasc is to support the creation of sustainable food systems. Every node of the food system, right from the production of food to its digestion in our gut and the valorisation of waste streams, has to be the focus of our research and innovation.

"Data creation and its management is a critical platform to realise this goal, and we hope this conference will help to clarify how digitisation can help us to achieve our vision.”

Teagasc and SRUC have collaborated on issues of mutual interest and concern for many years. In 2018 the first of a series of annual conferences aimed at identifying solutions and helping create new opportunities for rural economies took place. This Edinburgh-based conference examined the potential of rural areas and resources to deliver on a wide range of economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities benefitting all citizens of Ireland and Scotland.

The 2019 conference, held in Dublin, addressed the major environmental, consumer and economic challenges facing pasture-based livestock systems in Scotland and Ireland.

The 2021 virtual conference will take place on February 9 from 11am to 12.30pm. For more information and to register, visit www.teagasc.ie/sruc.