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 in two weeks’ time on Tuesday, 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.

Prof. Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, and Prof. Gerry Boyle, Teagasc director, will jointly chair the event.

This event will include four 15-minute sessions delivered by researchers from both institutions, and an open discussion.

In the first session, Prof. 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 Prof. 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, and Dr. John Hyland, from Teagasc, will talk about delivering farm advisory services in the digital age.

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

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.”

Prof. Boyle also commented, stating: “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.

The 2021 virtual conference will take place on Tuesday, February 9, from 11:00am to 12:30pm.