The future of agriculture: Inspiring the next generation
Winners of the Farm Tech Challenge 2017: St Clement Danes School
The 2017 Syngenta Farm Tech Challenge competition reached an exciting conclusion with the finals being hosted at Syngenta’s Jealott’s Hill R&D site in Berkshire.
With farmers embracing a whole host of exciting technology from drones to autonomous robots, the Farm Tech Challenge was created to enable the next generation of farmers, scientists and engineers to understand food production as well as explore agriculture as a technically advanced, dynamic and innovative sector.
By showcasing agriculture as an aspirational industry to work in we can engage and support this generation in the development of their sustainable future.
The Farm Tech Challenge
The Farm Tech Challenge is not only a competition but an educational experience run by Syngenta in the UK. Aimed at students aged 11-14 years, participants design a digital innovation that could benefit farmers around the world. The competition is themed around the six commitments of The Good Growth Plan and encourages students to think about the wide ranging global challenges we face while showcasing Syngenta’s dedication to sustainable agriculture.
Society needs individuals that are armed with ability to tackle climate change, provide cheap clean energy and feed a growing population. Over the course of the competition students are equipped with a range of transferable skills necessary for careers within the farming industry and Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) while providing a stimulating outlet for this generation to actively explore how science and technology are used every day in the real world.
2017 Finals Experience
With many creative ideas entered, ranging from pest sensors to an app-controlled irrigation system, it was up to a panel of judges from partner organisations including the Institution of Agricultural Engineers and the University of Manchester to choose the teams that were invited to take part in a special Farm Tech Challenge experience. The students and their teachers visited Syngenta’s Jealott’s Hill International Research Centre to meet scientists and experience for themselves some of the exciting world-class technology that Syngenta uses in the development of new crop protection and seeds. Syngenta scientists delivered a number of interactive demonstrations from 3D printing to digital image analysis.
“It was great to see the kids interested in what we were doing, and there were some really great questions.” Said Syngenta’s Catherine Piper.
“We don’t often get ‘wow’ or ‘that’s so cool’ as a response to a formulation video!” she continued.
Following the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour the finalists presented their own ideas to technology experts and scientists in a bid to win £1000 for their school.
Jim Morton, Syngenta External Liaison and Outreach Manager, was highly impressed by the creative ideas the students brought to the competition.
“The student presentations were very engaging and it was clear that they had put a lot of work into understanding the challenges farmers face and then turning their ideas into innovative solutions. They had even set up prototypes to demonstrate their inventions” he said.
Jill Heales, STEM Leader Garth Hill College, Berkshire, added “Experiences like this are invaluable for raising awareness of the importance of STEM subjects but more importantly they help pupils to thrive and develop their communication, teamwork and creative skills. All the pupils who took part in this challenge have been so enthusiastic and want to be involved in future projects supporting other students.”
Team Build Up from St Clement Danes School, Hertfordshire, took the grand prize with their drone system for detecting contamination of water courses. All the winners and runners up were awarded with individual Raspberry Pi kits to help them with their future innovations.