How RHASS supports innovation in farming
Throughout our long history, RHASS has committed to rewarding excellence and innovation by giving awards that reflect the sentiments contained in our Royal Charter - improvement, encouragement, benefit, communication, preservation and advancement.
RHASS actively supports new talent and offers numerous grants and scholarships for students and young people looking to advance their careers and life experience.
In addition, every year the Society holds the Technical Innovation Awards, which celebrate and recognise new products and implements that are helping to advance and improve the agriculture sector. These are essential for contributing to the continued progression and development of the agri and rural sectors.
Celebrating technical innovation
RHASS has a historical reputation for recognising and rewarding excellence, and the Technical Innovation Awards are the Society’s most longstanding industry accolade.
As agriculture and rural industries have evolved, RHASS has responded with developments of its awards. Technical innovation is pivotal to the future of farming, one of Scotland’s key industries, whether in sustainable development, improving the environment, promoting best practice, or ensuring operator safety and comfort.
Over the years, entries have reflected the evolution of modern farming. Increasingly, digital solutions are being invented to solve everyday problems – like drone assisted technology for checking crop conditions, or apps to keep track of your cattle herds.
Innovation in action
This year, a trend towards automated farming was shown by multiple entries, including Opico, which was awarded a Silver for the FarmDroid FD20. The FarmDroid is the world’s first fully automatic robot that both seeds and mechanically weeds. It is solar powered and uses GPS to precisely place each seed.
Other examples include 2021 Silver award winners Safe Forestry, an app created by Calum Duffy at Safe Worksite, which helps contractors comply to health and safety regulations within the forestry industry. Ensuring that all risk assessments and documentation is up to date, the app was created after Calum was challenged by the Health and Safety Executive during a site visit to improve the way he proves the competence of his operators.
Calum acknowledged the role innovation plays in moving the agri and rural sector forward: “Innovation challenges us to grow as a business and within our industry, innovation drives us to always do better and be more efficient. Without innovation, the industry could be left behind.”
RHASS is proud to offer the Technical Innovation Awards and understands it is an important and influential accolade for manufacturers, distributors, providers and inventors – they are a distinctive and prestigious means to promote new ideas, whether conceived in the farm workshop or on the test benches of multi-national manufacturers.
A platform for development
The Royal Highland Show, the Society’s flagship event, is also an essential platform for the developments constantly occurring in the agricultural and rural industries. The Show opens up these new technologies and products to a huge audience and enables innovators to come together, sparking new ideas.
One significant development showcased for the first time at the Highland Show this year was the AgXeed AgBot range of autonomous agricultural machines – effectively, robot tractors. These were presented by SoilEssentials, the advanced service and distribution partners for the range.
Gregor Welsh, General Manager/Hardware Development at Soil Essentials, talked about the impact that the AgXeed range had at the Show:
“Returning to the Royal Highland Show this year after a two-year absence, was in itself fantastic, but it also meant we really wanted to make an impact, show progression in precision farming and create a buzz around something special.
“Autonomous vehicles for agriculture are now a real and viable option. The AgBot exhibit on our stand (which was the tracked version, one of three models offered) attracted swathes of visitors who wanted to catch a glimpse, view it in its entirety up close and learn more about it. The excitement that revolved around it was tremendous and encouraging with lots of media interest too. Three days of field demonstrations followed the RHS, where the AgBot could be seen in impressive action.”
Supporting the next generation
RHASS supports dozens of young people and learners working in the rural and agri sectors. Whether it’s funding to go on an overseas discovery trip, or sponsoring awards to promote learning in land-based sectors, the Society is committed to helping the next generation reach their goals and further Scottish agriculture.
For example, RHASS works closely with its educational charity, the Royal Highland Education Trust, to fund farm trips for schools, provide free educational activities, and bring farming and the working countryside to life for young people. These experiences enable children to develop a grasp of how food and farming is vital to society – lessening the disconnect between farm and fork.
Likewise, every year RHASS sponsors a Nuffield Farming Scholar living and working in Scotland to fund their research project. The successful scholar undertakes international trips to further their understanding and knowledge of their chosen study topic, conveying their findings on their return and as a result bettering our sector.
RHASS also supports the Lantra Scotland ALBAS Awards, which celebrate the achievements of trainees working in land-based & aquaculture roles.
Through these efforts and many more, RHASS continues to support young people with an ambition to expand their knowledge in support of the food and farming industry – strengthening our sector and helping to ensure its future success.
The Society is committed to its ongoing support of innovation in agriculture and the rural sector, and there are many different opportunities on offer throughout the year for those interested in getting involved.