AGRI-TECH and it all it represents in terms of benefitting the Gloucestershire economy is changing the landscape of agriculture and farming businesses in our county.

It was, therefore, very welcome to get an insight into the opportunities agri-tech presented by Hartpury University and College at a roundtable and tour there attended by the Western Gateway.

Just to remind you-the Western Gateway is the government funded pan-regional partnership for South Wales and Western England.

It is this region’s economic powerhouse led by a board made up of business,academic and local authority leaders.

What impressed me about the visit to Hartpury was that Director John Wilkinson brought all his top team with him.

They do mean business. Business West’s experience of John’s team is as excellent working partners. It is to be hoped that if we have a change of government their valuable work will be allowed to continue.

Something like 70% of the land in Gloucestershire is agricultural.

In fact, the agri-tech sector in the county is valued at about £1.5 billion and supports more than 50 000 jobs in the wider economy.

Hartpury have really stepped up to the plate with their agricultural innovation-helping hundreds of farming business nationwide through digital processes.

They have their own farm on the campus, of course, with students up at dawn milking the cows there!

Agri-tech-the application of technology and digital tools to farming- is seen as a key pillar in the current development of Gloucestershire County Council’s new economic strategy.

And it is a very important component of the Local Skills Improvement Plans being developed for government by Business West in Gloucestershire. Our universities like Hartpury, and the colleges, are key to this work aimed at ascertaining exactly what employers need when they recruit young people.

It is good to see the Western Gateway realising the importance of agri-tech’s development for Gloucestershire. And top marks to Hartpury for rising to the challenge of producing innovative farmers of the future.