Northallerton father and son Howard and Tom Pattison welcomed members of the farming and business world to their dairy farm this week to take them through their journey to become a net zero operation.

As part of the Future Farming series of events run by the Centre for Business Innovation (C4DI) and North Yorkshire Council, more than 50 farmers, land agents, and agri-tech businesses met at Willow Tree Farm.

The Dairy Farming for the Future event saw the Pattisons show off their 280-strong dairy herd,162-hectare business and the steps they have taken towards a reduced carbon footprint. That includes going soy-free as soya has a high carbon footprint, using less fertiliser and focusing on slurry and muck, and changing their herd’s living space.

The Northern Farmer: Tom and Howard Pattison hosting the  eco event at their Northallerton farm

C4DI’s relationship manager, Louise Cooke, said: "Since its official launch in 2022, C4DI Northallerton has seen an acceleration of opportunities for businesses, particularly within the agri-tech and food manufacturing sectors.

"Our focus has been on growing a community within those sectors as well as other digital tech companies to help support innovation and growth amongst businesses.

"Our event at Willow Tree Farm supported a growing demand to learn more about the evolving changes within agriculture and how digital technology can support that. Our role as a tech incubator is to support traditional business with innovation and to support tech business to scale and grow.

"Having supported thousands of businesses over the last ten years, we hope to learn more from everyone and grow together through these events.”

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for business, Cllr Derek Bastiman said: "This session followed on from two other Farming for the Future events and was very much about collaboration. To encourage this, we had several agritech companies there to demonstrate products and there was lots of discussion about how we can work together to meet the needs of farmers."

He urged North Yorkshire farmers to consider a new farm sustainability programme to support farm businesses to become more financially and environmentally sustainable, being developed through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Support may include farm energy audits, farm carbon footprints, specialist advice around precision agriculture techniques and regenerative agriculture practices.

Up to 50 audits will be funded with applications open in November. Farm businesses with up to 50 employees can apply, with priority given to farms ready to implement the recommended sustainability measures. For more information, go to:

Future Farming was created as part of the work C4DI is doing around agri-tech supported by the council, Quantech Solutions, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS) and Barclays Eagle Labs.

The first event involved 85 regional farmers and agri-tech businesses gathering at C4DI in Northallerton to look at how they can work together to develop better tools for farmers, learn about new agri-tech developments and understand the challenges farmers are facing. It also explored innovations that could bring efficiency and cost savings.

The second event was aimed at arable farmers and those wanting to understand more about different technologies to save time, waste, and fuel while working towards improved yields and maximising efficiencies.

Presentations were made by industry experts, including Arla, the York and North Yorkshire Growth Hub, Bunch Tech, Ceres Tag, Dock Robotics, Herdvision/Agsenze, Hoofcount, Lely, Rix, Sensehub and Smartbell.

Future events will be advertised on