BEER makers, university scholars and a company that makes robots will be among the unlikely delegates at this year's Oxford Farming Conference as it opens today.

The Great Beer Debate at 6pm tonight, which follows the successful Great Cheese Debate last year, will see 'great beer makers talking about how they brew their ales'.

That follows a talk from The Small Robot Company at 3.15pm, which has trailed its talk: "Be part of the next farming revolution."

As usual, the conference's patron Princess Anne will join the unlikely farmers tomorrow, giving her keynote speech at the Oxford University Examination Schools in High Street at 3.50pm.

Oxford farming and environment campaigner George Monbiot will also return to the conference for a debate tomorrow evening, proposing the motion: "This House believes that by 2100 meat eating will be a thing of the past".

He will be up against farmer and broadcaster Gareth Wyn Jones.

The conference, which this year runs until the end of the day on Saturday, has long been contentious because, while it sets the agenda for global agriculture, it is sponsored by international corporations including McDonalds, Marks & Spencer and Barclays Bank.

With this in mind, Thursday will see the return of the alternative Oxford Real Farming Conference, positioned as an alternative gathering for small-scale farmers.

This year's talks there include a session entitled "Farm labour and livelihoods – workers, new entrants and who will pick our fruit and veg after Brexit?"

The real conference ends on Friday with a talk on civil disobedience and farming.