Championing a career that contributes to net zero

CHAP’s Innovation Network Lead, Dr Harry Langford, discussed the value of agri-tech innovation and his career journey into the sector during a net zero webinar hosted earlier this week.

‘Building the UK’s net zero workforce’ was organised by the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI)’s Agri-Food Career Committee, and outlined how the UK is working towards a net zero agri-food future, and the role of contributions from academia, industry and government in reaching that target.

The webinar was aimed at those seeking insight into the agri-food sector, the challenge of net zero as well as potential associated career paths.

As part of his presentation, Dr Langford outlined how CHAP’s five key R&D themes feed into the wider net zero agenda, and that by working together on innovative projects and real world solutions, the industry can make a difference.

Examples presented included reducing pesticide use through targeted use of non-chemical solutions, preserving soil health and retaining carbon, optimising tillage to reduce machinery fuel inputs, and using data to inform crop management decisions.

In the second half of his presentation, Dr Langford discussed his career journey and how his role specifically contributes to net zero. He said: “One thing that I’ve learnt during my career is the importance of gaining different perspectives on net zero, in order to form a broader view. Building a multi-disciplinary skillset is crucial in being able to understand the complexities of the subject and make true impact.”

“Of course, you also need a genuine desire to make a difference and not to fear a challenge. Part of overcoming the complex challenge of net zero is building a network of knowledge to tap into and embracing collaboration. Knowledge exchange is key in our sector.”

As well as Dr Langford, the guest speaker line up included Alastair Gibbons from BBSRC, Dr Sanjeev Mohankumar from the Carbon Trust, James Phillips from UKRI-BBSRC and Charlotte Lacey from EVORA Global.

During his presentation, agricultural footprinting expert Dr Mohankumar, also highlighted the importance of collaboration in building a meaningful career. ‘Dare to dream: push boundaries’ was his recommendation, and to develop wider skills that compliment an existing scientific skills set, such as entrepreneurship.

For Ms Lacey, a sustainability consultant who focuses on climate resilience, net zero should be a ‘career goal for us all’, and patience is key in order to achieve it.

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